Book Review: Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

8689927Title: Wrapped
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Middle Grade
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication Date: May 24th 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by S&S Galley Grab.

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.

Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.

Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

Wrapped provides a mixture of Regency fiction, Egyptology and a suspense novel. Since I love the Regency period – doesn’t everyone? – and I absolutely adore Egypt (mummies, ancient curses, pyramids, need I say more?), and I occasionally enjoy a nice suspense novel, I was pretty certain that Wrapped would be a perfect source of entertainment for me. I have to admit that although it wasn’t exactly what I suspected it to be – I had anticipated more paranormal stuff, and an actual curse for one – it does turn out an amusing and entertaining read.

Agnes Wilkins is a young debutante in London’s society in the early 19th century. But unlike other debutantes, she isn’t interested in parties, meeting a suitable husband or what dress she’s going to wear, and she’s not really looking forward to Lord Showalter’s party. When the party opens with the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy, Agnes actually feels bad for disrupting the latter’s millenia-long sleep. She retrieves an object from the mummy and fails to put it back later on when they discover they are in fact unwrapping the wrong mummy. Afterwards, strange things start to happen. A mysterious guy follows Agnes in the gardens and is later found falling of a carriage and breaking his neck. Various party attendants get a visit from burglars, and even Agnes’ own home isn’t safe from intriduers. Obviously the mummy’s curse is either real, or someone is looking for something that was attached to the money. It doesn’t take long before Agnes realizes the object she possesses might very well be what the culprit is looking for. She travels to the British Museum and asks the help of Caedmon, a newbie Egyptologist who also happens to be working on Rosetta’s Stone. The object she retrieved from the mummy holds a special message, and it’s not one related to a mummy curse. It’s actually one that could be very helpful for the French general, Napoleon, and one that cannot fall in the wrong hands. Agnes and Caedmon must find the object the French are looking for, before they find it. Because that could very well mean the end of the British Empire…

The storyline isn’t really that original, but it was fun nevertheless. It reminded me of those books like National Treasure, and a bit like Dan Brown for middlegraders or something. It was amusing though. I really had no idea that in 19th century London people actually held mummy unwrappings at parties. I was aware of their obsession with the occult and supernatural, but I didn’t think they’d take it that far. I love it when I learn something new from a book. Also, the general fear in the public for the great French general Napoleon, was something I never even stopped to think about. Naturally, by practically resurrecting from the dead (not literally though) not once, but twice Napoleon certainly was a worthy and fearsome opponent. I can imagine that the superstitious lot living in the era would see him as either working for the devil, the devil in disguise, or a practically mythological figure who proved to be undefeatable.

Agnes is a very intriguing heroine. She is courageous with her heart in the right spot, straight-forward (especially for those days) and very intelligent. She can solve riddles without much hassle, and she has an interest in all things historical and/or mysterious. I really liked the fact that she doesn’t regard some things like other people do. For instance, the mummies in the museum, or the pieces of century-old temples displayed there. Agnes’ opinion is that they should have remained where they belonged, and where they have been for all those years. Naturally, she’d like to see a mummy once or twice, but preferably while travelling to Egypt and visiting the pyramids, not in some dusty museum in the middle of London.

I also really liked Caedmon’s personality. He is a struggling beginner in the field of Egyoptology, forced to dust off ancient mummies on a daily basis while he would probably prefer working on deciphering Rosetta’s Stone. Although he knows his place, and that he certainly isn’t the appropriate match for a girl like Agnes, he cannot help but fall in love with her. And I can’t blame him – she is an amazing person. I loved how Caedmon was so passionate about his work, and how he was actually quite courageous and brave as well. He ended up being one of my all-time favorite love interests for book heroines. I might be a bit biased because I’m a big fan of Egypt as well, and I would love to work at the British Museum, trying to figure out the mystery of the Rosetta Stone, or basically just dusting off ancient mummies. Sounds like the perfect profession for me.


Wrapped
was full of suspense and mystery. My heartbeat trippled halfway the novel when I was getting really anxious on whether or not Agnes and Caedmon would be able to escape from the people searching them. It reads a bit like Agatha Christie for middlegraders, without the occasional murder that needs solving of course. Although it isn’t highly original, I did really enjoy reading this book, and I found Agnes to be a very loveable character. As a sucker for romance, I was most pleased with the way things turned out. The only downside is that some parts of the book were rather predictable – I knew who the villain was all along – but since it’s aimed at YA/MG, younger teenagers might not figure it out that easily.

Also, I would like to congratulate the illustrators on doing a marvellous job with this book. I really love the design of the cover. It’s a beautiful illustration, and it really fits with the general light-hearted and aimed at middlegraders style of the book.

If you like a good suspenseful novel with a fast-pace, interesting characters and a humorous undertone, then Wrapped definetely is a great choice. It’s a light and fast read, but it will pull you through a rollercoaster of events from a mummy unwrapping to a century-old mystery to a French general who needs to be defeated at all cost. And did I mention the occasional sparks between two of the most likeable heroes out there?

Comments

  1. Oh great book review, I recently read this one myself and really enjoyed it a great deal. If you want to check out my book review for it, it’s here and I also had the chance to interview Jennifer Bradbury, if you’re interested you can find the post here as well.

    Suz @ A Soul Unsung

  2. Great review! I particularly love the cover. So pretty and intriguing.

    ~Asheley T.

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