Sunday, February 19, 2012
Book Review: Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh's daughter by N.C. Allen (Whitney Finalist)
Author: N.C. Allen
Enjoyment Rating: 4/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Library Copy
Books I've read this year: 22
One of the things I frequently encounter when I read for the Whitney Awards is a book that's part of a series. It's rare that I've read the prior books in the series, and if I can't jump into the story, it's some pretty painful reading. There's an art to giving enough backstory to help a reader along, and not too much. JK Rowling had this down to a science-- she hooked her readers with some exciting bit of action, then did just the right amount of backstory, then back to the action. I jumped into the Harry Potter series with book three, and after the second chapter, I felt completely up to speed.
Unfortunately, I never felt like I got up to speed with The Pharaoh's Daughter. There were characters from the previous book introduced in the first few chapters, and later Allen introduced characters from earlier in Webb's life (and maybe earlier books). There were a whole lot of characters, some in disguise, others who were spies (and I didn't understand the spy ring either). And I never quite understood why they were traveling-- was it vacation? For the sake of the jewel? Were they passing it off as vacation to the girls? I'll admit that I probably didn't read the last half of the book as closely as I could have, but that's because I was so darn confused by the time I got there that I didn't know what else to do other than just plug on to the end. As I've been working on my novel over the last year, I've recognized how hard it is to know which details are essential and which aren't, and unfortunately The Pharaoh's Daughter gave too few of the former and too many of the latter.