Nefertari may have been given the name of a queen but she doesn’t feel like one so she insists she be called the more common Terry. With her mother dead and her leg crippled this 16 year old must re-enter the world of high school when her archaeologist dad gets a job with a museum. Life is complicated when she is paired with Zach the star basketball player and mean girl Allison takes exception to it. When her father falls into a coma and it is blamed on an Egyptian curse Terry with the help of her new friends, Maude and Fraser will uncover a 50 year old mystery and figure out what happened to the missing asp.
The cover has this retro feel that I kind of dig but at the same time made me pause at reading it but I love any fiction to do with archaeologists and Egypt so this premise sounded really fun. Plus it turned out to be really fun to read too! Terry really felt like a real teenager to me. Sometimes she was a bit of a coward and sometimes she was so gutsy that I worried she would survive. Her backstory was set up such that I totally believed that she hadn’t really had close friends yet and that her philosophy would be to keep her head down. Many times this is a sticking point for me that I just have to ignore but this time I was pleasantly surprised. Strong storycraft is very important in crafting a sound and compelling mystery so I was excited to find Asp of Ascension having it in even the fine details. Character wise Terry was a great combination of regular girl who had unusual circumstances in her life. I really loved that she wore a brace and had a crippled leg. Also it was fun how knowledge of Cleopatra was important to the story and Terry was a bit of an authority on it due to her mother’s research.
So a really great protagonist is joined by two of the funnest and most compelling friends I have met in contemporary teen fiction: Maude and Fraser! Gosh I really loved them. The candy loving Maude was bold and proud while also having to deal with a serious bully problem. I loved that she was Hispanic and how we got to see her entire background with her grandma and mother. Any girl would be blessed to have a friend like Maude. I really took to her from the moment she put that sticker over the word whore. Fraser is your classic reporter wannabe but somehow he made you feel like he was a real reporter even in high schooler… I loved how he first approached Terry to get a scoop for his school newspaper and it developed into more than just a story. I loved the way he talked and how he was constantly referencing Scooby-doo! In fact he quite reminded me of Fred! I really liked how these two were separate from her relationship with Zach. They weren’t all friends then partnered up but legitimately grew closer because of their friendship with Terry who grew closer to Zach due to the secrets she knew about him.
I liked Zach too. I guessed his troubles right off but they were a compelling part of his relationship with Terry. I liked how he mirrored Terry as a regular guy but with some unusual fame in his life. I loved how Terry saved him and it happened in a believable way (if in unusual circumstances). The prince was a really great touch! As was the Egyptologist Dr. Mullaca. Also the museum director who had a crush on her dad and the creeper stalkery teacher who adored Egyptology. The characters in this story really made the book for me due to the fact no character was wasted and everyone had their moments in the limelight.
The narrative was really strong too if a little morose. Understandably so though with all Terry has gone through the last year.
“She stared at the space between her sneakers. There was a hole in her spirit, and it was growing every day. Soon she’d be so hollow, the wind would pick her up, rip apart her limbs and scatter her all over the world.”
Well what about the plot? Loved it! It is a little high school but it does have to do with a group of teenagers. I liked the mystery a lot with the old missing persons case and the missing artifact. I liked how Terry was not a stupid girl and figured things out in steps. She was a bit naive and believed how things appeared but doesn’t all teenagers do that?! The kids all had some growing to do and I loved how those moments layered over one another in a very real and compelling way. There is an aspect of the supernatural that is unexpected in the story. As well as an end result that was shocking in how spot on it was.
If everything was so great then why 4.5 stars and not 5? Well while I loved the plot and the characters made the book for me I could see the outcome of all of the foreshadowing. I don’t know of one of these moments that didn’t jump out at me. I like to be surprised at least once like I’m meant to. This book didn’t have that for me… I don’t think it will be bothersome to others as there are quite a number of little twists! Don’t be turned off by the cover*, this is a must read, especially for Egypt lovers!
BOTTOM LINE: Supernatural coming of age mystery with plenty of Egyptian mythology!
(*I wish the cover had been a more modern rendition of a retro feel rather that seriously copying cover art of a bygone time…)
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.” Netgalley is a special section of my book discussions where I post reviews of the digital books I read through this service. It’s quite amazing the gems you can find. I’ve yet to regret reading a book, even if I don’t like it…