Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.
*Summary taken from Goodreads.
I have to admit that I was excited to read this book, from the moment I received my advanced copy through Netgalley. It's true that I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of romance novels, but I am a huge history buff and this book provided a wonderful balance of both, and a pretty cover to wrap it all up in.
I love how plucky, intelligent, and daring the main character of the novel is. Agnes is simply a marvelous character and one of my favorite things about her, is the fact that she craves knowledge; she takes it upon herself to appreciate history, and to learn several different languages despite the social constraints that her mother constantly foists upon her. She possesses such a hopeful quality about her and knows there's more to life than being the belle of the ball or in this case debutante, parties, and getting married to a suitable suitor when the time comes.
She has this thirst for adventure, this daring quality about her that drives her to question, to seek out the mystery, and solve it as best she can. It was amazing to watch her risk her own life, for the good of her country. It was also good to see her rise above the limits that certain social standards dictates for a girl as privileged as she and to still see something worth falling in love with, in terms of Caedmon. I really enjoyed Caedmon quite a bit and I was happy to see how well developed that he and the other characters were, as well. For once, it seemed like the nice guy would actually win out and get the girl and the social status and career of a lifetime.
It was quite enjoyable to see Jennifer Bradbury create such a time-period piece of fiction and modernize it in such a way that you could identify easily with the main character, who was as forward thinking and evolved as Agnes was. It was quite fascinating and satisfying to also see how she was able to weave the basic knowledge and concept of Egyptology and the mystery of Mummy curses into the story and create a strong plot that was very well developed and structured in such a way that it kept you wanting to turn the pages in an effort to not only learn more, but to find out what was going to happen next, who the villain was ultimately going to end up being. It is very action packed and fast paced, which is also a good thing as well and the romance slid perfectly into place.
This book is a must read novel, truly. If you like mysteries and value the importance of history itself, all coupled with a romance that's as sweet as this one was - then you will definitely enjoy reading this book. You cannot go wrong with such a brave, intelligent, savvy heroine such as Agnes or the social constraints and attitudes of British Imperialism either. I assure it is not just another book with a pretty girl in an equally pretty dress on the cover; it is so much more than that. It is simply a solid four stars, I would even wager to say a possible five and I don't hand those out that often or easily either.