Author: Jennifer Bradbury.
Synopsis (taken from GoodReads): 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.
When I was little, I went through a serious phase of loving all things ancient Egypt, which grew into a Victorian detective novel love when I hit my teens. This book combines two of my greatest nostalgic loves so of course I had to pick it up! Overall, I was pleased with “Wrapped” and enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it.
The greatest strength of “Wrapped” lies in Agnes, its witty, independent and imaginative heroine. She falls into the typical heroine trope traps but is executed with a certain flair I found rather charming, and also manages to have several moments of surprising complexity I didn’t expect in what is essentially a light-hearted romp. For a novel with this sort of story, I think you need a heroine like Agnes, and she was what kept me reading throughout the occasional drops in pace. There was one thing about her that frustrated me and that was her frequent references to A Lady, the pen-name for Jane Austen. Agnes is a smart girl with a love of books, which I appreciated and related to, but her constant references to Austen began to grate on me very quickly. The other characters didn’t quite have the same impact on me and felt very stock, but they got the job done.
There really isn’t much for me to say about “Wrapped” because it’s a simple, light-hearted romp that one shouldn’t take too seriously. There dialogue is often anachronistic, some of the history doesn’t quite add up and the mystery at the centre of the story is pretty predictable, but it’s all very readable, often highly enjoyable and a good way to waste a few hours, which is in no way a criticism. I had fun reading about the Egyptian myths and rituals, It’s not going to break any boundaries or set a standard in historical YA, but it is a good fluffy read. I think younger YA readers may enjoy it more than I did.
I received my e-ARC from Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab programme.