Title: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Author: RL LaFevers
Illustrator: Yoko Tanaka
Pages: 352 pp
Price: $6.99 US
This book is the first in a series by R. L LaFevers. The main character is Theodosia Throckmorton, a clever and self-relient girl living in London in 1906. She has to be self-reliant — her mother is an archaeologist often out of the country at excavations, and her father is the somewhat distracted Head Curator of the Museum of Legends and Antiquities. Theodosia has an unusual ability — she can see the ancient curses and black magic attached to artifacts, including many in the museum. She needs all her cleverness and the ancient Egyptian magic she’s taught herself to neutralize these curses. She gets her biggest challenge when her mother brings the Heart of Egypt amulet to the museum, carrying a curse far worse than anything Theodosia has seen before. And then the amulet goes missing…
I really enjoyed this book. It was well plotted, and there are some interesting characters. One of the very best parts about this book is Theodosia’s voice. The book is written in the first person and I think kids will be able to relate to Theodosia. Theodosia’s humor and exasperation contrast well with the horrors and mysteries she finds herself in the middle of. I also am glad to see another smart, relatable girl main character in a children’s series. I also have a fondness for “Victorian Noir” settings, and parts of this book evoke that ambience.
I loved how matter-of-fact she was about the Egyptian magic she did. Some of the Egyptian terms LaFevers uses aren’t quite used correctly, but overall, especially in the second half, this is a very polytheist-friendly book.
Although this book is aimed at 8-12 year olds (the “middle grades” category) I think adults who are “little kids at heart” would enjoy it too. I will definitely be reading further books in the series.
[Ariana Dawnhawk has been pursuing magic and the edges of things for a long time. She is an eclectic striving for syncretism and a professional creative, who seems to attract nouned adjectives. Her influences include Feri, Morningstar, Eclectic/NeoWicca, Thelema, and a small group focused on teaching and learning called the Department. Her spiritual passions include devotional work in everyday life and connection with the community of Beings. She is active in her local OTO body and is published in Mandragora and the Guardian of the Road: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Hermes.]