As in the first novel in the series, this book alternates narrators between brother and sister Sadie and Carter Kane. The first book was more a book of discovery and introduction to the world. They learned about their ties to Egyptian past and their abilities to wield magic through their ties to the House of Life.
This second book takes us on a new journey of adventure in which the Kanes are hunted both by human magicians from the House of Life (who are against magicians aligning themselves with the gods) and from the Egyptian gods and goddesses who are trying to free Apophis, the ancient lord of Chaos who will destroy the world.
In the previous book, Carter and Sadie were serving as vessels for the gods Horus and Isis. In this book, they still have links to those gods but no longer posses their essence/skill. Thus, the young novices are in even more dire straits than before. Fortunately they have allies willing to help them, but only to an extent. Even with the help of some minor gods, the Kanes still have to do a lot of the heavy work themselves.
There are also strange moments of romantic tension in the book. Carter is pining after the co-starring heroine from the first book (Zia) and Sadie is caught in a love triangle between the god Anubis and a mortal magician she's training. Carter is a little older than Sadie (I think he's 14 and she's 13 in this book), but they still seem a little young to be having so many romantic thoughts…especially in the middle of a world-ending crisis. I guess moments of intensity can lead to intense emotions, but the romantic longings still felt misplaced. Fortunately they weren't terribly overt.
I still find this series a bit slower read than the Percy Jackson series but at the same time it's a bit more interesting and educational since I know less about the Egyptian mythos. I really enjoy the alternate voices of Carter and Sadie. They are both sarcastic and witty but they also have distinct tones and reactions, which makes the narrative deeper and more engaging. I also had a lot of fun with some of the new characters introduced to the mix (the god Bes was very funny).
I found the adventure/plot of this book more intriguing than that of The Red Pyramid. Looking back at the Red Pyramid, that plot from a high level is very much boilerplate adventure. While this second book still has a lot of standard tropes or cliches from adventure novels, the method of execution felt more fresh and engaging and left me enjoying this book more than the first.
4 out of 5 stars
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