Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

First off - I'm sorry for taking so long between posts! Family was in town and then I contracted a mean stomach flu which flattened me for a few days! But now I'm able to both eat and write again, and things are much better.

by Jennifer Bradbury
May 24th, 2011 
Borrowed from Library
Grade: A-

Synopsis (from Publisher): 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.

In a way, Wrapped is the YA version of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series. Which isn’t a bad thing at all -if you haven’t read these and are interested in Regency mysteries and strong heroines, you totally should check them out. They’re lots of fun.

Agnes charmed me from the opening pages as she struggled with the contradiction between her own desires - to continue her education, to do something interesting - and the duty she owes her family and society. The book opens as Agnes is just about to begin her first Season and (if her mother has anything to say about it) find a husband. Quickly. I really enjoyed that Agnes wasn’t a twenty-first century girl full of modern attitudes and beliefs transported to the nineteenth century. While she was definitely more liberal and forward thinking than an average upper class girl of her time, it was pretty well explained by her education and family circumstances. I wasn’t totally convinced that any 19th century girl would believe transporting Egyptian artifacts to Britain was a terrible idea, but in general, she remained of her time.

The mysterious aspects of the book were equally well-done as Agnes and her love interest struggled to translate hieroglyphics, reveal a mummy’s curse, and just possibly save England from invasion. Plus? We get to go behind the scenes at the British Museum which is an incredibly cool and creepy setting. I guessed the mystery’s resolution fairly early on, but the writing was engaging enough that I was happy to see how the characters discovered the end game.

This book isn’t a great piece of literature, and it probably won’t be a life-changing book (unless one suddenly develops an interest in Egyptology which would be totally cool), but it’s a really fun read populated by enjoyable and interesting characters. The ending also pleased me - everything wrapped up, but there’s certainly a hook left for possible future adventures of Agnes, and I’d be happy to read them. Because any main character who quotes Jane Austen in Russian has to be a fun one to follow.

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