Monday, February 9, 2015

Tombquest Book 1: Book of the Dead by Michael Northrop

Tombquest Book 1: Book of the Dead by Michael Northrop. 197 p. Scholastic Inc., January 27, 2015. 9780545723459. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Mixed-up Files (of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) eat Tombquest's dust. This new multi-platform series hits the ground running. I can't think of a middle grade novel that begins with the main character dying but there you have it. Alex Sennefer is living on borrowed time of a mysterious illness but his Egyptologist mother, who curates the Ancient Egypt section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will have none of that. She has found the Book of the Dead and intends on using it to save her son. Little does she realize exactly what she will unleash in doing so. She saves Alex when his doctors proclaim there is nothing more to be done. Alex doesn't get to spend too much time celebrating though because his mom disappears and creepy, mysterious things keep happening with the exhibit. Museum security and the police have no clue what they're up against. 

It is up to Alex and his best friend Ren, short for Renata, who is a genius and happens to be the daughter of the engineer in charge of well, everything at the museum, it seems, to find his mom. Of course, they need a bit of help from Dr. Todtman, a colleague of Alex's mom that Alex isn't certain he can trust. The two kids have nearly unlimited access to all parts of the museum. And, those parts they aren't allowed in? Let's just say they know their way around a few security codes. 

Terrifying jackal-headed villain? Check. Stinking mummies? Check. Stinging swarms of deadly scorpions? Check. A stench-filled trip through the museum's sewer system? Check. Exploration of unused subway stations? Check. Enough booby traps to stymie Indy? You get the idea. Fast-paced, funny, smart. I'm so glad the rest of these books are releasing quickly so I (and my kids) don't have long to wait for the next installment. In the meanwhile, fans can visit the Tombquest website to play games and explore.

Book 2: Amulet Keepers releases on April 28.
Book 3 releases August 25.
Book 4 releases January 5.
Book 5 releases March 29, 2016.

Thanks to Scholastic for this arc.

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