Jagger Jones and the Mummy's Ankh, by Malayna Evans, for Timeslip Tuesday

Young fans of ancient Egypt will find much to enjoy in Jagger Jones and the Mummy's Ankh, by Malayna Evans (Month9Books, May, 2019), although it didn't quite work for me.

Jagger Jones is a biracial kid from Chicago who loves learning about the past, preferably from the comfort of his own home.  Unfortunately for Jagger, his mother and little sister, Aria, are both passionate about adventuring, and he's dragged around the world in their wake.  In Egypt, Jagger wakes one night to hear a voice calling out to him, and he follows it outside, followed in turn  by Aria, though she can't hear the voice.  Jagger digs into the ground to find its source, and the two kids find themselves in an undisturbed ancient Egyptian burial chamber, with a golden ankh, the source of the voice, resting on a mummy.  When Aria grabs hold of the ankh, they find themselves back in the time of Akhenaten, the pharaoh who rejected the Egyptian pantheon and set up his own religion.

Akhenaten's oldest daughter, who continues to worship the old gods, has called Jagger back to her time to help foil a plot--one of her father's general plans to murder her and her siblings (Aria was carried along as a bonus time-travelling extra).  Since Jagger and Aria are descendants of this family,  they will never be born if the murders are carried out, so they have an incentive to help.  This isn't the Egypt Jagger learned about in books; it is a place of real magic, and the pharaoh's daughter is a skilled practitioner of it.  Jagger isn't sure what exactly he and Aria can contribute, but the flood of events sweeps them off to Thebes to try to foil the general's magical machinations.

For a kid of 9-10 years old who loves all things ancient Egypt, this will be a lot of fun.  There are appearances by Egyptian gods, and lots of Egyptian magic, and of course Akhenaten and his family (including his son, Tutankhamen) are fascinating.  The 21st-century kids  keep the story relatable; for instance, it might well tickle young readers lots when Jagger pulls out his cell phone to use modern music as a weapon.

That being said, the book didn't work well for me.  Jagger is a rather passive character (Aria takes a more active role, although it comes with a perkiness that I found a bit exaggerated), and though there's an explanatory bit at the end about why he and Aria were the ones chosen to travel back in time, there was very little they actually did to contribute to the resolution of the danger (although Jagger does have one bright idea that comes in very useful).  This didn't bother me terribly much, because colorful and vivid adventures, such as make up the bulk of the story, can compensate for me not being sure the plot is built on a strong footing.

What really didn't work for me was the writing, which could have used a stronger editorial hand.  For instance, although goodness knows I over use and misuse commas myself, I really can't enjoy reading awkward comma clauses in books.  I found myself distracted from what was happening and looking at the sentence-level writing to see why I was finding it jarring, and so I couldn't really enjoy the story.

But for young lovers of ancient Egypt, this probably won't be a problem.

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