Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

Time Hunters – Egyptian Curse

timehuntersOVERALL: 3 Stars

Concept:3 Stars
Characters:3 Stars
Plot:3 Stars
Writing:3 Stars

 

Chris Blake
Dynamo
2014
Harper Collins
147

 

Description: Egyptian Curse is book 6 in the Time Hunters Series another series in a long line of ‘quest’ series where two kids (usually a boy and a girl) have to gather items to ‘fix’ an overall problem, in this case: sending Isis to the underworld after she disrespected the god Anubis 5000 years ago. This book is a mix between Deltora Quest and Horrible Histories and will really appeal to boys. (There are even gaming cards offered in the back to further appeal to boys!) Tom the main protagonist is the son of a Museum curator and his knowledge comes in handy when he and Isis are thrust back in time to deal with some historical situations. Due to the nature of this type of book it is quite formulaic and predictable but at the same time kids like predictable, easy to read books that are simply there to entertain.

Concept: As mentioned in the description this book is a mix between Horrible Histories and Deltora Quest as such, it’s concept is not really new. This book is clearly aimed at boys between 6 and 10 who love history and fantasy and a good old quest!

Characters: The characters were all a bit too peachy keen and flat so I never really connected with any of them and there was a lot of eye rolling on my part. I mean, do Mum’s really say “Wakey Wakey?” any more? King Tut’s character was all over the place too and Tom was a bit ‘too good to be true’, but what really bothered me was that Isis talked like a modern day girl. She died 5000 years ago!! Maybe this anomaly is explained in a previous book in the series (I doubt it) but even if the author did come up with a reason for it, I think that having her talk in such a modern way was a huge wasted opportunity to impart more history and authenticity into the story. OK, so we don’t really know how an Egyptian princess would have spoken 5000 years ago, but I am pretty sure she wouldn’t have used terms such as “Professor Smartypants and “Yoo hoo”.

Illustrations: The illustrations in themselves were good, however what annoyed me is that on at least two occasions I found they didn’t match the content and I think this is a huge no, no. After all the whole idea behind illustrations in kids books is to help with comprehension and understanding and add depth. When the picture doesn’t marry well with the writing, this is not really achieved.

Plot: I found the plot to be painful and simple. I know, I know, its a book for young boys, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think of better, more believable ways to tell the story. For instance, Isis and Tom pop over into Egypt and within seconds they see King Tut and befriend him – well, concede to become his slaves. Then within a few hours they are teaching him to be an expert marksman and a couple of hours later advising him about battle strategy….yeah, right. I’m not an expert on history, but it seems to me that in most cases, slaves were not really ‘listened’ to. At the back of the book there is a section with fun facts about Egypt, about the weapons they used as well as a time line. Why not incorporate this in the book?? One of the facts is about Pharaohs not wiping their own bottoms, Isis and Tom were slaves, err can you see the possibilities?

Writing: Average, average, average. Everything about this book is average including the writing. The dialogue in particular was very, very, twee. “Cheer up boys… Tutty here is going to be a big success.” or “You two are funny!….You’ve got to come to the palace and be my servants.” It just wasn’t believable.

PARENTS: If you have a boy who likes history and doesn’t like reading too much, then this might be a book for you. It’s simplicity and action will appeal to young boys as well as the illustrations and the game cards. Will they learn heaps about ancient Egypt? Not really, but they will learn some in an easy, entertaining way and that is always worth something. This series also has a website :www.time-hunters.com and looking at it there might even be a tv series on the way. You can sign up for a newsletter, play card games and there are already 12 books in the series. So these online additions might be a good hook to get a reluctant reader to read the books.

Things to ask and discuss:

1) Encourage your child to back up the reading of this book with an appropriate book on Egyptian history.

2) Talk about the concept of Egyptian gods, the afterlife and mummification.

3) You might want to research more on the Hitties.

 

Come on comment, you know you wanna.

Book Reviews and Writer