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WesternSFA


Cries from the Lost Island
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
DAW Books; 309 pp; $26.
Published: March 2020

This standalone fantasy brings an ancient Egyptian mystery to life against a modern background, in a tale expertly crafted by a seasoned anthropologist

Set against the glory and tragedy of ancient Roman Egypt, this novel brings to bring to life the greatest love story of all time.

Sixteen-year-old Hal Stevens is a budding historical scholar from a small town in Colorado. A virtual outcast at high school, he has only two friends: Roberto the Biker Witch and Cleo Mallawi. Cleo claims to be the reincarnation of Queen Cleopatra. She also believes she's being stalked by an ancient Egyptian demon, Ammut, the Devourer of the Dead.

But when Hal and Roberto find Cleo murdered in the forest near her home, it appears she may have been telling the truth. Her last request sends them journeying to Egypt with famed archaeologist Dr. James Moriarity, where it quickly becomes clear that Cleo has set them on the search of a lifetime: the search for the lost graves of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

But they are not alone in their search. Cleo's murderers are watching their every move. And not all of them are human...

Hal is a misfit at school and at home. He is deeply in love with Cleo who claims to be the reincarnation of Cleopatra. When she is murdered, Hal and his best friend Roberto travel to Egypt with Cleo’s uncle to solve the mystery of her death.

Part fantasy, part mystery and part historical romance this is a difficult book to categorize. This is definitely a YA book aimed at teen readers though adults should enjoy it as well.  As an adult some things did not ring true for me. For instance the fact that Hal’s mother is insistent that he is mentally ill because of his love of history and deep feelings for Cleo and the fact his parents were willing to send him the Egypt with a man they barely knew. Hal’s constant vacillation between belief in Cleo and his visions of the past and then believing he is mentally ill as his mother insists is probably true as to how teens doubt themselves but it was distracting to the story’s progression.

While the story wraps up nicely it leaves room for a sequel. As hard as it was to get into this book initially, I would be happy to see more of Hal, and especially Roberto, and their adventures. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

 For more titles by Kathleen O’Neal Gear click here

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