Review: Secrets Of A Sun King by Emma Carroll
How uncanny that Professor Hanawati had guessed that something awful was going to happen to him. It made me more scared for Grandad too, because the letter confirmed that the curse really did exist. So why, after all these years, had it started up again? And what was wrapped in linen, in the bottom of the jar?
(Secrets Of A Sun King by Emma Carroll. P45.)
London, 1922. Everyone’s talking about Harold Carter, the famous explorer who is closing in on the site of Tutankhamun’s tomb. At the same time, an Egyptologist dies after bursting into flame.
When Lilian’s Grandad is taken ill, she finds a package from the very same Egyptologist addressed to her Grandfather. Inside is an incredible object which holds a story … and possibly a curse.
Lil and her friends set out on an extraordinary journey to return the package to the place it belongs.
Another triumph from the master of historical fiction Emma Carroll. Some authors have a strong signature. You would know you were inside one of their books even if their name wasn’t on the cover. Emma Carroll is such a writer. From the first word, it is as if you are listening to a storyteller who is relaying the words just for you.
As in Carroll’s other novels, the story looks for a deeper truth. The story we all know about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb was written by the English press – the story of triumph at the last minute and undiscovered treasure ripe for the picking. Even back in 1922, there were concerns in Egypt about Carter’s treatment of the site. Secrets Of A Sun King explores this story from a sideways angle. Lil’s quest – to discover her Grandfather’s connection to the package and to do whatever it takes to keep him alive – hooks the reader. It is as the story unfolds that the themes get deeper.
We also hear Tutankhamun’s story – a scroll found by Lil and her friends tells how the young king died. Hearing this story from Tutankhamun’s sister brings him to life in a way which has rarely been explored. There are many fact files on the young king but the stories around his tomb – the expedition narratives – sometimes mask the fact he was a child and a human being with thoughts and feelings of his own.
Emma Carroll is one of the finest middle-grade writers working today. Her stories go from strength-to-strength and her empathy with people throughout history couldn’t be clearer. Highly recommended.
Enjoyed this? Check out Letters To The Lighthouse by the same author.