Discover the secrets of King Tut in Emma Carroll’s brilliant YA novel ‘Secrets of a Sun King’ [Book Review]

A daring teen must help to break the curse of the famed Egyptian boy pharaoh with the help of a mysterious document

John Millen |

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Secrets Of A Sun King

By Emma Carroll

Published by Faber and Faber

ISBN 978 0 571 32849 9

In November, 1922, Western newspapers were obsessed with one lead story. British archeologist Howard Carter had discovered a stairway probably leading into a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Carter was searching for the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen, and was convinced this was the lead he had been waiting for.

Newspapers were reporting on Carter’s every move. Carter, for instance, drilled a hole in the door at the bottom of the staircase and held up a candle so he could see inside. When Lord Carnarvon, the man financing the search, asked Carter “Can you see anything?”, he replied “Yes! Wonderful things!”. Even details like these were written down!

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Emma Carroll’s new teen novel, Secrets Of A Sun King, is set in 1922 when Egyptomania was gripping the Western world. Carroll is a proven natural storyteller, and here she serves up a gripping tale played out against Howard Carter’s exploits in Egypt. And one of the thousands of Carter fans waiting for their hero to break into the tomb is 13 year-old Lilian Kaye who lives in London.

Lilian feels a strong attachment to what’s going on in Egypt because her elderly grandfather used to be an Egyptologist and young Lil has spent many hours in museums learning all about pharaohs and mummies and Egyptian hieroglyphics. Grandad is now unwell in hospital.

Carroll introduces readers to her lead character and the historical background of the novel without any fuss or wasted detail. There is a thrilling story to tell here, and Carroll knows what her fans are expecting.

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During Grandad’s spell in hospital, Lil is looking after his flat. One morning a parcel addressed to him is waiting on the doorstep. It’s from a Professor Hanawati, who Lil knows died recently in mysterious circumstances. Lil opens the parcel to see if it contains something important for her grandad. It does – a jar from Egypt. There is also a document that turns out to be Hanawati’s English translation of the story of the last days of King Tut, and the curse that will follow the opening of the tomb if it is ever discovered.

Hanawati begs his old friend, Lil’s grandad, to restore the jar to its resting place in the tomb before the curse can take hold. But Grandfather is in hospital. What can Lil do to break the curse of King Tut?

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Emma Carroll never disappoints her readers, and in Secrets Of A Sun King, she delivers a tale filled with intrigue, interesting characters, and colourful historical background.

Cleverly woven into the thrills and spills Lilian’s personal adventure is the story of Tutankhamen, a boy who never wanted to be a pharaoh.

Carroll’s fast-paced Egyptian yarn will hook readers looking for a thrill-packed read.

John Millen can be contacted at [email protected]­