The Curse of the Kings

Registered by wingk00kaburrawing of San Jose, California USA on 8/4/2007
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingk00kaburrawing from San Jose, California USA on Saturday, August 04, 2007
This has been sitting in a box under my bed for at least six months now. Time to get it registered - before returning it to Mt. TBR. D'oh!


Book Description
For centuries the tombs of the Pharaos were haunted by a deadly curse. And when two eminent archaeologists have died mysteriously, Judith Osmond was certain that it was the curse at work. Then, overnight, her life changed. There was an unexpected inheritance. Then Tybalt, a young archaeologist and the man she adored, asked her to marry him. But Tybalt planned a honeymoon amid the tombs of the Pharoahs, and suddenly it looked as if the curse of the kings had come to haunt Judith . . .

Journal Entry 2 by wingk00kaburrawing at San Jose, California USA on Monday, February 20, 2017
Read today.

I am a fan of the books Eleanor Hibbert wrote under the pseudonym Jean Plaidy, but this is the first time that I've read one of her Victoria Holt novels. It's quite different. I thought The Curse of the Kings would be an interesting book to pick up because I LOVE Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series, and I thought it would be fun to experience the whole mystery set in Egypt starring archaeologists from a different writer's perspective.

I know that gothic romances are somewhat defined by their penchant for unexpected plot twists, but the life of Judith Osmond is ridiculously worthy of a soap opera. Raised by spinster aunts in a rectory, she is led to believe that she is the daughter of a distant cousin. When she becomes a teenager, however, the aunts inform her that she is in fact a foundling, an orphan adopted after no one claimed her after a terrible train wreck killed her parents. The aunts' beautiful sister was killed in the same wreck, so the baby brought great comfort to the little church family. But wait - as Judith reaches adulthood the story changes again. In fact she is NOT just a foundling, but the bastard daughter of the beautiful dead sister, fathered by a local nobleman who conveniently allowed her to take lessons from his children's governess. That's several major revelations about our character, and we haven't even left for Egypt yet.

In fact, for a book whose back cover description focuses on a curse of the Pharaohs and Egyptian mysteries, very little time is spent in the land of the pyramids. The first half of the book is squarely set in England and revolves around Judith's unusual upbringing and her intense crush on a young archaeologist named Tybalt. Her obsession with Tybalt spans years, for it is expected that he will eventually wed the heiress to the of the local lord so he often visits the house where Judith takes her lessons with the heiress and Tybalt's sister. By the way, I regret to report that Judith is one of those regrettable modern heroine pasted into a historic past, a strong-willed woman with independence and spunk that seems to clash with the era she is meant to live in.

The book is labeled romantic suspense, and indeed, in the first half of the book characters are pairing off like animals boarding Noah's ark. It felt less like Jane Eyre than a Jane Austen novel. It's not until the last little lady is wedded and a surprise fortune is bequeathed on Judith that we can FINALLY start the expedition in Egypt.

As best as I can tell, the Egyptology presented in the book is as accurate as our understanding of it was in the mid-20th century, and reflects on what a character in Judith's position would have known in the late 19th century. However, Egyptology has come a long ways since the early 1970s, when this book was published, so I suspect that not all of Tybalt's conclusions are now correct.

The depiction of contemporary Egyptians seems potentially problematic. I don't know that history well enough to be sure, but was sacrificing a virgin to the Nile still a thing in the second half of the 19th century? This feels like an attempt to ratchet up the drama and the "exotic" factor for Holt's white suburban mom audience. I can't quite put my finger on the exact problems, but I somehow come away suspecting the book is racist for its othering of the Native Egyptians.

I came to quite dislike Judith and her over-the-top story by the end of the book. I can't help but wonder if Gothic novels like this inspired Elizabeth Peters to create her feisty heroine. Amelia Peabody is such an improvement over Judith Osmond, and I'm so glad she appeared just a few short years after The Curse of the Kings to bring new life and energy to the genre.

Journal Entry 3 by wingk00kaburrawing at USA in Via Paperbackswap, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- USA on Thursday, March 01, 2018

Released 1 yr ago (3/1/2018 UTC) at USA in Via Paperbackswap, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- USA


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