Friday, April 15, 2016

Review 33: Luxor: The Book of Past Lives

Luxor: Book of Past Lives. Julie Bettendorf. 2015. [April] Outskirtspress. Pages 322. [Source: Bostick]

First sentence: The large white ibis floated languidly on the smooth surface of the Nile, its feathers silhouetted brilliantly by the morning sun.

From Goodreads:  Set against the rich tapestry of ancient Egypt, Luxor: Book of Past Lives is the story of Nebamun and Iramen, two brothers who are embalmers in Egypt during the era of the boy king, Tutankhamun. It is their duty to prepare the many bodies of the dead who land on their embalming table for a journey into the afterlife. Paralleling this ancient tale is the story of two different brothers, Abdul and Karim, who make their living by robbing the ancient tombs of Egypt in the late 1800's, when the theft and sale of artifacts was at its peak. Woven throughout the novel are the mysterious intersections of the brothers' lives, though separated by thousands of years. Luxor: Book of Past Lives is a masterful blend of fiction and historical detail, each chapter offering a window into the past, with details gleaned from countless historical accounts. It is a riveting tale of violence and greed, riches and poverty, and good and evil in the time of the pharaohs and beyond.

My thoughts: This book captured me from the first page.  I enjoyed the back and forth between ancient Egypt and the height of the antiquities trade with the Europeans.  I have always been intrigued and interested in the ancient world; this was a unique look at how the regular guy spent his life.  The inside look at the embalming process was an added bonus, as this was something that I was not overly familiar with.  Another equally nice aspect of the dual story-telling was how the author would weave in what was happening in the past with what was going on in ‘present’.  Following two sets of brothers was also a unique twist.  I would be highly excited and happy if there was another offering by this author.  There were times towards the end where the pace seemed rushed and others where it was slower, however, that did not detract from my enjoyment of the story in the slightest.

Rating 8/10

Recommendation:  Those that enjoy stories told in Ancient Egypt will find enjoyment in this book.

*I received a paperback review copy for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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