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Month in review

Reviews
Another Brother by Matthew Cordell
Bad Houses by Sara Ryan
The Boneshaker by Kate Milford
Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver
Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson
Desert Gold by Zane Grey
Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
Fire by Kristin Cashore
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton
Heartless by Gail Carriger
In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
Know the Parts of a Book by Janet Piehl
Lily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins
The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman
Mr. Puzzle Super Collection! by Chris Eliopoulos
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
The New Ghostbusters Volume 1 by Erik Burnham
No Ordinary Owl by Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright
Peek-a-Boo Monsters by Charles Reasoner
The Pirate's Eye by Guy Bass
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
Rin Tin Tin's Rinty by Julie Campbell
Sacred Clowns by Tony Hillerman
The Shadow King by Jo Marchant
Tankborn by Karen Sandler
Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep! by Mo Willems
Unraveling Freedom by Ann Bausum
The Very Big Carrot by Satoe Tone
Watch Me Throw the Ball by Mo Willems

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8




The Shadow King: 11/07/13

cover art

The Shadow King by Jo Marchant takes an in depth look at the history of King Tutankhamen's mummy, especially after its discovery in 1923 by Howard Carter. It's also the story of that discovery and the huge cultural impact it (and other things of Egyptian antiquity) had on the 20th century.

In the year that Tutankhamen's tomb discovery was announced to the world, the boy king became a cultural icon. If social media had existed back then, he would have had fake Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook accounts. Instead, he got a song, "Old King Tut" (see video below).

King Tut as he's been dubbed is a study in paradoxes. A big part of why his tomb was discovered intact, is that his name was stricken from the record. He was the last of a line of controversial pharaohs at the the close of the 18th dynasty and a big part of immortality is having your name out there (it's the same reason why wealthy people buy buildings). If your name isn't out there, and you don't have any major statuary, you're forgotten. If you're forgotten, you're not immortal.

But, his tomb and his body and his belongings were not destroyed. They were buried in an obscure little tomb and left to the ages. As Egyptology grew as a serious academic study in the late 19th century, the blanks in the time line were filled in with greater and greater detail. It became clear to the archeologists of Howard Carter's generation that there had to be someone to fill in the time that Tutankhamen reigned.

Since Tutankhamen made it to the 20th century with little fanfare, his tomb was (for the most part) left untouched. Remarkably, the people who buried him, didn't remove his name from his stash. So here, crammed into a small space were untold historical riches. You can see why a young man whose reign ran from roughly age nine to age eighteen was suddenly a worldwide superstar (and continues to be).

But, here's where things get really interesting, and where Jo Marchant's book takes off from the other dozen or so books about the boy king. For someone suddenly so famous, his body has been horribly mistreated. He is literally in pieces (and for a humorous look at that, I highly recommend Elizabeth Peter's The Laughter of Dead Kings).

Much of the book then focuses on what happened after Howard Carter. There have been numerous theories about Tutankhamen's health, life and death. Marchant goes through all the different studies and their findings. It's a fascinating read and I think Tutankhamen will remain a person of interest for future generations.

Four stars

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