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One person's thoughts on a whole lot of books
Four kids. One hotel room. And a briefcase full of mysteries.
Rome, December 29.
A mix-up with their reservations forces Harvey from New York, Mistral from Paris, and Sheng from Shanghai to share a room with the holet owner’s daughter, Elettra. Soon the four kids discover an amazing coincidence – they all have birthdays on February 29, Leap Day. That night, a strange man gives them a briefcase and asks them to take care of it until he returns. Soon afterward, the man is murdered.
The kids open the briefcase. In it they find a series of clues that takes them all over Rome, through dusty libraries and dark catacombs, in search of the elusive Ring of Fire, an ancient object so powerful that legend says even a Roman emperor couldn’t control it.
In the first book the the Century quartet, Italian author Pierdomenico Baccalario begins a mystery that will take four cities and four extraordinary kids to solve.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
How I got it: Bought
Overall, I liked this one. It didn’t necessarily wow me, but it kept me interested enough to finish reading. While there are fantastical elements throughout the book, they weren’t numerous enough for me to call this a fantasy à la Harry Potter. First and foremost, it’s a mystery, and a decent one at that. Only once or twice did I figure out how the twist would turn out before it happened, but it wasn’t catastrophic enough to hinder my enjoyment. While I did indeed enjoy the book, it’s not going to have a place on my bookshelf. If space wasn’t an issue I would probably keep this on my shelf, but since it is I’ll most likely post this on paperbackswap.com.
I would recommend this to readers who like mysteries such as, The Mysterious Benedict Society series, the Theodosia Throckmorton series, The Name of This Book is Secret, and Tunnels. If you’ve enjoyed any of these titles, you would probably like this as well.
from the back of the book
“Frankly, I’m not fond of surprises, as ones around here tend to be rather wicked.” For poor Theodosia, however, surprises abound. She spends most of her time at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. There, all the artifacts her parents dig up around the world are put on display and studied. But what her parents can’t see – and what Theodosia can – is the curses and black magic still attached to the ancient pieces. And it’s up to Theo to keep it all under control. Quite a task for an eleven-year-old.
Then Theo’s mother brings home the Heart of Egypt – a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb. Theodosia’s skills will certainly be put to the test, for the curse attached to it is so vile and so black, it threatens to bring down the entire British Empire! Theodosia will have to call upon everything she’s ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country – and herself!
My Rating: 4 out of 5
How I Got It: Bought
First off, I disagree with the Booklist review stating that this is “for fans of Harry Potter.” I wouldn’t exactly say that this is for fans of Harry Potter. This is more for fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society series, Harriet the Spy, or even From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Yes, ok, magic is a major part of this series, but it’s more about solving the mystery. Think Victorian-era mystery with a dash of Egyptian magic. Theodosia is a strong 11-year-old girl. She may come off as stuff and as a know-it-all at some points, but we’re also reminded that she’s just a little girl, and that she gets scared sometimes. The mystery was well paced and I wasn’t able to guess too much of the ending, which always impresses me. I want to read the next in the series to see what other kind of mysteries Theo has to try and figure out. I would definitely recommend this to those 10, maybe 9 and up, who enjoy mysteries. The voice of the character kind of reminded me of Gail Carriger’s Alexa Tarabotti (from the Parasol Protectorate Series), but much younger and more PG friendly. If you enjoy mysteries, and Egyptian magic, definitely check this out.