While vacationing in Egypt. . .
Jeannette Walker, a cynical scientist jaded by swarms of tour groups and knick-knack shacks, is lured by a teenage tour guide to visit a newly discovered tomb. No other tourists there! Inside the chamber, she tumbles down a shaft and 3000 years back in time.
Now, in a world where deities walk the streets and prophecy stinks up the air, Jeannette is desperate for normal and the simple pleasures of sanitation and refrigeration. However, a slave master hawking a cat-headed girl derails her homebound mission, and Jeannette—penniless in this ancient world—steals the girl, bringing down the tireless fury of the slaver.
Saddled with a newly awakened mummy and the cat-headed girl, Jeannette, through her unparalleled experience gained from watching spy movies, contrives a plan to free them from the slaver’s ire, but will she have to dive into the belly of the beast to succeed?
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The torchlight caught an image of the Eye of Ra, omniscient and red, and a shiver crossed her skin. With a glance back at the stairs—a little voice in her head urging her to ‘just get the hell out’—she faced the tunnel again. She’d leave once she assured the kid wasn’t lost down here, injured and scared.
She grabbed her pack and slung it over her shoulder, careful of her injuries, and crept past the sarcophagus, certain the opening loomed wider than before. Not looking in for fear of catching a peek at something dead and rotten, she stepped into the darkened hallway, calling out. “Hello?” Her voice hung flat in the narrow hall, the acoustics wanting. It surprised her to find a network of passages and rooms. Each dry, empty antechamber sucked the fluid from her mouth and mocked her with hostile silence. As she wandered from one small chamber to the next, she expected to find piles of offerings, maybe gold or jewels, or even pottery, but the rooms housed only one blocky sarcophagus. Otherwise empty, they had been left incomplete—or emptied under ill-intentioned methods.
“Kid.” Her calls had turned into a mantra, lacking the passion of initial panic and had morphed simply into a word that slipped from her lips each time she entered a new room. “Kid?” Her guide played an amazing impersonation of somebody who was just not there.
When she hit the end of the passages, having explored each alcove with no sign of life, she began retracing her steps to that first room she’d tumbled into. The kid must have been on the upper level after all, and had not fallen down the threshold into crazy land like she had. Just her luck.
Exhausted, dragging her feet across the stones, she almost tripped on the flat surface. She just wanted to return to her hotel and sleep. The dreaded knowledge of the long trip back in the bike’s sidecar—assuming she could even return that way—and the fact that she was running out of water, sapped away her optimism. Trips were designed to be fun, a bit of adventure, a bit of pampering. She was ready for the spa treatment now. The tour planners had touted it as part of the package deal. She’d never had a spa treatment: no foot rubs, no facials. The knowledge that a hot bath and massage waited for her spurred her forward, though all she really wanted to do was close her eyes and open them again to her hotel room, the soft bed and bowl of fruit, the funky scent of the detergent that tickled her nose to the edge of a sneeze.
Damn it. This wasn’t what she wanted.
Frustrated, she stomped across the floor, her hard-soled hiking boots clomping as her mind soldiered through her options to make it back to El-Balyana, let alone Luxor. With her thoughts leap-frogging from walking miles, to hijacking a camel, to the cost in dog lives of a taxi trip to her hotel, she didn’t see the figure standing near the opened sarcophagus as she rounded the corner.
When she did, she froze.
Within the eon caught between one blink and the next, she absorbed details of the monster from a bad B movie: short, about her height, wrapped in linen gauze. Arms bound to its sides, it twisted and writhed, struggling to free itself from the linen embrace.
Then it moaned, a noise tapped straight from its slim chest, desperate and hungry, and Jeannette couldn’t contain her own scream.
Publisher’s Weekly Review
MacLellan’s fun debut drops Jeanette, an American tourist in Egypt, into ancient Thebes…
A great sense of character evolution drives the plot, as Jeanette learns that her safe, mundane, passive modern life can’t compare…
A strong conclusion sets this light fantasy a notch above its peers. (Oct.)
Vanessa MacLellan was born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, works as an environmental engineer, and is an avid birder, naturalist, gamer, and runner living in Portland, Oregon. Her website is vanmaclellan.com.
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