Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.
Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.
As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.
Rating: 1 Star
This debut novel called out to me for a few different reasons. It features main characters who are African American, so the diversity was a plus factor. I’ve been interested in Egyptian mythology in the past, so time travel back to Ancient Egypt? Sign me up. Add an element of magic and it sounds like this should have been quite a good novel.
I was of this mind for the first few chapters, at least while Portia, her sister Alex, and Selene (the unwitting freshman), were still in modern times. It felt like the author’s writing was the most comfortable while in this time period. Once the narrative shifts to Ancient Egypt is when things start to fall apart for me.
The three girls are separated immediately, which affects the closeness that these modern girls should have when confronted with their new situation. It takes a really long time for anything to come together, whether that be Portia figuring out what’s going on or finding out where Selene or Alex are.
Even once the girls are somewhat reunited, the story never really picks up. The words drag on so much that reading it was honestly painful at times. I did not enjoy reading this book from around 40% onward, which was disappointing. Aside from the slowness of the plot, the characters suffered. Alex was not in the novel nearly as much as one would suspect and I don’t think we really got to know her beyond a facade of the perfect twin, the smart girl that doesn’t question her gift because she doesn’t care.
Something else that bothered me regarding this book was the heavy barrage of information regarding the clothing, the architecture, and the surroundings Portia found herself in. It all felt like too much, like I was being hit by another explanation about what this was called or that was called every other sentence. It didn’t feel like world building, it felt like being force fed information and that was less than enjoyable.
I found the explanation for the events of the book (why they went back in time, the scarab, etc.) to be somewhat lacking. It could’ve been developed into something great, I think, but so much time was wasted on other things that the big reveal felt like a letdown. I’m curious whether this will be the standalone. At the moment there’s no series listed as continuing, but the story has some potential for continuation. I’m not sure whether that would be in the best interest of the story or whether it should be allowed to lay to rest.
The cover is gorgeous, the first 25% of the book is enjoyable, but I wouldn’t recommend this too highly unless you enjoy the heaviness of information and slow pacing.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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