I was recently tasked with reading the four Theodosia Throckmorton novels for my English literature seminar (we’re focusing on the theoretical archive, and this series’ museum setting proved to be very useful for discussion), and I’m thrilled to say that I loved each of them.
The series follows Theodosia, a plucky eleven-year-old girl in London, England, whose father is the head curator of a museum and whose mother is an archaeologist working on digs in Egypt. Set in the early 1900s, R.L. LaFevers does an excellent job constructing an image of London from over a hundred years ago while also working to build the larger Egyptian mysteries in which Theodosia ultimately becomes consumed – which just happens to include a variety of mysterious organizations, some helpful and some deadly.
Despite the series possessing a fantastical and mythological facade , one of the aspects I enjoyed most was the intricate characterization. It’s increasingly easy to become sloppy with your characters the longer a series gets, but LaFevers never wearies. She gives her characters room to grow and have depth without it ever feeling forced or out of character.
For example, without spoiling anything severely important, Grandmother Throckmorton is written as a horribly rude person throughout the series, but we see another side of her not only when she meets and fancies Admiral Sopcoate (a member of the British navy), but also as we learn the circumstances of Theodosia’s birth and how Grandfather Throckmorton, who we don’t actually meet in the series, ties into the overarching plot.
The story behind Theodosia’s birth was actually a pleasant surprise for me. Because it wasn’t explored in full until the fourth book, I was ready to accept that Theodosia’s gifts (she is able to physically see Egyptian curses, sense Egyptian magic, and has an all-around knack for removing curses) developed from her years of being in the museum and studying its artifacts and books (she can read hieroglyphs at the age of eleven). However, when the backstory came, I was elated because it doubly answered the questions surrounding her gifts and tied most, if not all, of the plot together.
Plus, the series has cute animals such as Theodosia’s cat, Isis, and the jackal who is actually a statue but also springs to life as a guardian for Theodosia. Who doesn’t love animals?
Despite having to read this for class, the series was a treat from beginning to end. Theodosia’s sass and perseverance are admirable, and all of her “Bother!”s have almost made me pick up the word in my everyday vernacular. If you’re looking for a good read that also happen to be kid friendly, these are sure to be a hit for kids and adults alike.
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