Phoebe's Reviews > Lights on the Nile

Lights on the Nile by Donna Jo Napoli
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's review
Nov 19, 2011

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bookshelves: historical, juv-fantasy, magic, fairies, ancient-egypt
Read in November, 2011

A story set in the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, beginning quite strongly with the story of Kepi and her family, struggling since the accident that befell her father while working for the Pharaoh ferrying the granite blocks up the river for a new great pyramid. He cannot work, and decides that he will become a bread baker and experiment with new kinds of breads. He sends Kepi and her pet baby baboon out to gather herbs for the dough, but they are kidnapped because Babu is a valuable animal who will fetch a good price if sold to the temple in Ineb Hedj. Kepi is angry at the Pharaoh for not caring what happens to his workers, and she longs to talk to him and tell him what she thinks. Her kidnapping seems to present the perfect opportunity for this. Quite suddenly near the end of the book the plot twists into fantasy, with the appearance of the gods, when Kepi and her companions are given a choice to make about how they will spend the rest of their lives. Despite DJN's usual great writing, the book is a peculiar mix of historical fiction and fantasy that doesn't quite jell. Upper elementary.

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