Strange things are happening in London. Red rain is flooding the streets. People are going missing. And someone is opening graves in Highgate Cemetery . . .
Only Alex and his best friend, Ren, suspect the truth. A Death Walker, a powerful ancient Egyptian evil, is behind the chaos. Their quest to stop him takes them from New York to London, and from the land of the living to the deep underground tombs of the long dead. Will they stop the Death Walker before he gets too powerful . . . or will the tombs claim them, too
The second installment of the TombQuest Series jumps into action right from the start. Even though the plot is similar to The Book of the Dead, Amulet Keepers ramps up the fear factor, especially since part of the mystery revolves around a missing boy. Amulet Keepers has more violence and may frighten younger readers, especially because the Death Walker steals people’s souls. In order to break up the tense scenes, Alex’s cousin Luke appears several times. Luke adds some humor to the story and his athletic abilities come in handy while fighting several thugs.
Many readers will empathize with Alex, who is desperate to find his missing mother. However, Alex’s short temper occasionally borders on the side of being thoughtless and mean. Nevertheless, Alex’s best friend Ren has Alex’s back, even when she becomes frustrated by his bossy attitude. Despite Alex’s behavior, readers will appreciate how all three characters — Alex, Ren, and Luke — have different strengths that help defeat the Death Walker. Amulet Keepers also introduces a mummified cat to the cast of characters, which adds an interesting twist.
TombQuest is an exciting series full of action and adventure that will keep readers engaged but might frighten some readers. Readers wanting a fast-paced story where danger — and mummies — lurk around every corner will find Amulet Keepers entertaining. Readers who want an adventure that doesn’t involve the dead coming back to life will find Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger more to their liking.
- A man is walking in his neighborhood when a dead mummy attacks. The man screams, but “the neighbors stayed in their beds, pulling the sheets a little closer. And so none of them saw the powerful figure of one man drag the limp frame of another out of the light at the edge of the village. . .”
- While leaving the airport, Alex and Ren are ambushed by Liam, a thug that works for The Order. Alex’s “own heavy suitcase crashed into him. Liam swung the thing like a Ping-Pong paddle, clocking Alex hard on the shoulder and sending him sprawling to the pavement. . . Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Liam bring the suitcase down toward Ren, trying to swat her like a fly.” Ren is “knocked flat.” Then, Liam puts a zip tie around Alex’s wrists.
- Liam tries to put Ren and Alex into a van. “As he reached out for Alex, a shoulder slammed hard into Liam’s gut and a pair of arms wrapped up the tops of his thick legs. . . Liam’s mouth formed a perfect round O as he fell backward and his head slammed into the side of the van.” After Alex’s cousin, Luke, incapacitates Liam, the kids escape. The scene is described over three pages.
- Liam follows the kids to a museum. To get into the parking lot, Liam has to take care of the security guard, Glenn. Liam “grabbed the back of Glenn’s head with one powerful hand as the other one shot up towards the guard’s neck. The gleaming metal point of a large hypodermic needle sank deep into the soft, pale flesh of Glenn’s neck. . . the guard fell still.” The guard was injected with horse tranquilizers and was “lucky to be alive.”
- When a Death Walker comes after Ren and Alex, Alex grabs the scarab, and “a powerful phantom wind rose up. . . it was enough to slow [the Death Walker] and knock him off balance.” During the fight, Alex shoots a “spear of wind” at the Death Walker, but “the creature opened his mouth wide and ate it. The wind disappeared into a howling vacuum inside.” The creature tries to feed on Ren’s soul. Alex saw “a flicker and a blur as a mirror image of his best friend slowly began to pull away from her body. . .He looked down and saw the same thing happening to him.”
- Alex uses his scarab’s magic when the Death Walker tries to feed on Alex and Ren. With his eyes, Alex breaks a tree branch. “The Walker looked up in surprise, pointing his open mouth at the falling branch. . . A moment later, the branch crashed down on his oversized frame, knocking the foul man-thing to the ground.” The kids are able to run away from the Walker. The scene is described over four pages.
- Dr. Aditi, who was helping Alex and Ren, is in a cemetery when the Death Walker sees her. “Two strong hands clamped down on her shoulders. . . The powerful hands dug into her shoulders as he opened his mouth wide and showed her oblivion. The world went cold, and the last thing she saw as her eyes turned white and her lips edged past purple was her very self, slipping away.”
- While in an isolated part of a museum, Liam corners Ren. “There was nowhere to go, no other exit, but she put the room’s one bench in between her and the towering thug.” Liam takes out a syringe of horse tranquilizer. “He stabbed out with the syringe. . . she screamed as the point of the needle raked across her left arm.”
- Ren tries to run from Liam, but “he reeled her in like a wriggling trout as the drop of tranquilizer began to take effect and her vision began to blur.” Luke and Alex jump in to help Ren. Alex uses his amulet to push Liam’s lookout down the stairs. Then, Alex “squeezed his fingers into a sharp point and . . . a lance of concentrated air caught Liam directly under his chin, sending him reeling backwards.” Then, Luke “lowered his shoulder and crashed into the back of Liam’s legs, sending the big man toppling over him and onto the floor.”
- When Liam tries to take an unconscious Ren, Alex attacks the thug with wind. “As Liam rose onto one knee, his body jerked violently off the floor and spun toward the other two men. His big frame caught them at shoulder level and all three landed in a heap . . . grunting from pain and surprise.” All three kids escape without injury. The scene is described over six pages.
- After failing to capture Alex and Ren, Liam is taken to the Death Walker. “Liam felt his body lift off the ground, his feet kicking out from underneath him. He could only flap his arms helplessly as he was slammed back down. The back of his head crashed into the hard-packed dirt and knocked him out cold.” Liam is mummified.
- Alex and Ren are in a series of tunnels under a cemetery when “a massive force struck Alex so hard that he flew sideways into the wall . . . he left an Alex-shaped impression in it as he slumped down to the floor . . . Ren spun around to find the long iron snout of a crocodile mask turned toward her like the barrel of a gun. Her hands wrestled futilely with an unseen force clamping down hard on her throat, cutting off the blood flow.” The Death Walker’s servant, Te-mesah, ties up Alex and Ren.
- To force Alex to talk, Te-mesah hurts Ren. “Ren gasped with pain and surprise as her bound hands were yanked over her head. . .Ren’s feet were a foot off the ground. . . Her face was a mask of pain and despair.”
- Pai, a mummified cat, comes to Ren’s aid. “Pai hissed again, gathered her haunches underneath her, and jumped. . . Te-mesah put his hands up, but it was too late. . . He stumbled backward and smacked into the wall, then . . .attempted to pry the hissing whirlwind from his head.” While Te-mesah is occupied, Ren and Alex escape. The scene is described over three pages.
- While in the tunnels, Alex and Ren find Willoughby (a Death Walker). Willoughby had Robbie, “a young boy, tied to a stone slab in front of him. The boy turned his tear-streaked face toward them. He screamed for help, but a filthy rag tied over his mouth muffled the words.”
- A mummy begins to chase Robbie but he “executed a nifty soccer-field fake. . . the mummy barreled straight ahead, as mummies do. Alex grasped his amulet, raised his right hand, and released the most powerful lance of wind yet. . .The mummy toppled forward at full speed and wiped Willoughby out.”
- Willoughby focuses on Alex, deciding “who to kill first. . . [the Death Walker] punched his hand forward again, and Alex’s body convulsed hard on the floor. . .He reached up and wiped his mouth painting a red smear across the back of his hand.”
- Robbie cuts off Willoughby’s hand. “The metal shears snapped shut, making a grotesque sound as they cut through muscle and old bone. Robbie squeezed with every muscle in his small body – and all the anger in there, too – leaning his chest and all his weight down on the handles. . . Willoughby’s hand dropped to the dirt floor with a dull thud.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- After using his magic, Alex’s head hurts so he “rifled through his stuff for his bottle of headache pills, took two too many, and collapsed onto his bed.”
- When Alex is being mean to Ren, she tells him, “Don’t be a jerk.”
- Alex calls the Death Walker’s servant a scumbag.
- Freaking and heck are both used once.
- In England, it rains blood several times.
- Alex has a scarab amulet that gives him special powers such as being able to sense the dead and control wind.
- Ren befriends the mummy of Bastet. “Part protector and part predator, the cat-headed goddess was both revered and feared in ancient Egypt.”
- The mummy of Bastet gives Ren an amulet in the shape of an ibis, “the symbol of Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing.” The amulet gives Ren visions, but she doesn’t understand what they mean.
- Captain Winfred Willoughby was a tomb raider who was accused of murder. Upon his death Willoughby was mummified, and he comes back to the world of the living as a Death Walker.
- An archeologist was mummified and brought back to life. “Everything about him was wrong, an abomination. . . The man’s skin was mottled and uneven; in some places it was stretched taut and dry, like a mummy’s, and in others, it hung loose, like a pale old man’s.” To stay alive, the mummy must feed on the souls of the living.
- To send Willoughby back to the land of the dead, Alex uses his amulet to activate the Book of the Dead. Alex recites, “O thief! O usurper! Get back! Return, for you should know justice. . .” The spell does not work until Ren cuts off Willoughby’s hand, which was the ancient Egyptian’s punishment for stealing.