Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers
Series: Book 1 in the Theodosia Throckmorton series
Release Date: April 9, 2007
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 350
Received: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum.

When Theo's mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine.

Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won't be easy.

She quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she's ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself!


Forget that you're an adult

Pretend that you're a kid again and try to recall what you used to think about adults. If you had even the slightest tinge of Miss Smartypants as a child, then you probably found yourself thinking that everything would be so much better if adults just stopped being silly and let you rule the world.

The fact that you were only 11 years old was hardly relevant.

Have you ever thought that? Well, I know I did, and that 11 year old mindset is what you need to channel to approach Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. If you look at it from an adult perspective, then I don't think you're going to be able to appreciate Theodosia or her story in the right way. Remember, this is Theodosia's story and it is told through her perspective.

MG-level sleepover party!

The guest list: Theodosia Throckmorton, Hermione Granger, Reveka and Kat Stephenson. We would bite off an adventure that would be WAY above our heads, but our combined precocious awesomeness would easily save the day.

Theodosia reminded me a lot of Hermione back when Hermione was a wild-haired know-it-all in Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. That isn't to say Theodosia is a copy of Hermione, because she's totally not. Theodosia is very clearly her own person, and that person is a respectable young lady, a little scamp, and a little girl trying to catch the eye of her busy parents.

Theodosia has many traits that could so easily go wrong and make her really annoying, but in R. L. LaFever's skilled hands Theodosia's stubbornness, defensiveness, independence, bravado, and curiosity were 100% adorable. Add in her insecurities that make her about as cute as a sad puppy picture and I'm pretty much ready to sign the adoption papers.

Her first-person narration is filled to the brim with cuteness (her little grumbled frustrations never failed to make me smile). I would try to pull out a quote as an example, but I'm having too much trouble deciding on just one.

If I were an old lady, I would SO pinch Theodosia's cheeks and give her lots and lots of hugs.

I got to live in a museum!

You know me, I'm a touch impatient, so I found the beginning a little slow. It's not that nothing happens, it's just that what does happen isn't something to get all white-knuckled about.

It's also the first book in a series, so there was a lot of "setting up Theodosia's world" going on. This didn't really bother me though because I liked Theodosia so much. So, yeah, maybe I wasn't exactly desperate to find out what was going to happen next, but I was perfectly content to keep reading about Theodosia's life in the museum.

Which, by the way, SO fed my secret wish to live in a museum (I've wanted to make the New York Museum of Natural History my second home ever since I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. Yeah, those kids picked a different museum, but this is MY dream).

The pace does pick up about halfway through when Theodosia finds herself in the middle of two opposing secret societies--one side attempting to harness ancient Egyptian curses for nefarious purposes, the other side determined to stop them.

Yep, you read that right. Secret societies! Automatic points for that. This part was a ton of fun.

Bottom line

I'm really happy there are three more books (and counting) in this series because I'm hooked! Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos ends nicely as a standalone though, so my motivation to keep reading is based purely on how much I like Theodosia and her adventures.

This is a MG book, but it isn't one where it feels "dumbed down" or overly simplistic (the bad guy was a surprise to me). 

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

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  1. My first thought was that this sounds so much like Kat Incorrigible. And then you mentioned Kat! I would love to live in a museum too. Only thing better would be to live in a library.

  2. I just read "From the Mixed-up Files" recently and got to live in the museum, but I would love to revisit. I love the sound of this one and there's not enough strong, sassy heroines for MG and YA. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. This really sounds like a series I could get into it!
    :D thanks for mentioning it because I hadn't heard of this book before!

  4. Dude, I am so in. It sounds like a mix between From the Mixed-Up Files... and Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles.

  5. I have to say, the synopsis itself transported me back to my younger years. Great review!

  6. Alison, Theodosia is definitely a great pick for fans of Kat Incorrigible. I want to smush them together in a book and watch the hilarity and snark unfold. :) I have had many dreams of living in a library too!

    Rummanah, You're welcome! I saw your review but haven't had time to comment yet. I used to be obsessed with "From the Mixed-up Files" :)

    Alex, I think you'd like it! Theodosia is very sweet and fun, but I think you'd really appreciate her more vulnerable side too.

    Couch Potato Critic, Yes, exactly! It's not as fast-paced as Rick Riordan, but it's still a lot of fun.

    Dazzling Mage, Thanks! Theodosia really captures that younger spirit. I found her very easy to relate to.

  7. This is one of those nice series where every book is just as fun as the last! I hope you enjoy them.


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