Monday, January 9, 2012

The Secret of the Scarab by Fiona Ingram: Review

I am delighted to share this novel on the blog today - lovers of young adult literature or those of us with kids will definitely want to check this one out!  Big thanks to Pump Up Your Books for allowing me a spot on this tour!

Book Summary:

Cousins Justin and Adam are ecstatic about accompanying their aunt to Egypt. Both love adventure and know the work of James Kinnaird, an archaeologist searching for the tomb of an ancient Egyptian ruler, the Scarab King. Some dismiss the tomb as legend, but Justin and Adam believe differently.

From the moment their plane lands, Justin and Adam bounce from one mysterious event to another, starting from the moment a street peddler gives Adam an ancient scarab. Dr. Khalid, head of the department of antiquities and research at the Egyptian Museum, shows excessive interest in the cousins and their relic. Then, when the boys learn that James Kinnaird is missing, they realize something sinister is afoot.

Kidnapped and taken across the desert, the boys are plunged into serious danger and chased by ruthless enemies. Dr. Khalid will stop at nothing to discover the Scarab King's tomb and claim its treasures. But he has underestimated the boys' ingenuity.

Join Justin and Adam as they evade their captors and unravel the secrets of the Scarab King. Relying on their wits, courage, and each other, the boys must solve the mystery of the sacred scarab and rescue James Kinnaird before time runs out.

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The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has received the following awards:

Book Award Nominations & Wins:
Finalist Children’s Fiction  USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers’ Favorites Awards
Number 2 in the USA Children’s & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids,  Tweens & Teens
Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

About the Author:

I can’t remember NOT having a book in my hand. My schoolmates called me a bookworm, and nothing’s changed since then. I was brought up on the children’s classics because my parents are also avid readers. My earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, I entertained my three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity (of course!). Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favourites in the cast of characters that populated “Gruesome Gables” where all these adventures were played out. We also acted out the stories for my long-suffering parents, whom I see now were remarkably tolerant of my budding thespian and script-writing talents!

I graduated from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, with a double first in my B.A. (French & Drama). After completing my Honors in Drama at Natal, I then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do my Masters degree in French-African literature. I also studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon my return to South Africa, I immersed myself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years.

A move to Johannesburg took me in a new direction—that of journalism. I have written freelance for the last fifteen years on everything from serial killers to relationship advice (making me a popular dinner guest to revive any flagging conversations). Writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for my 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied me on the Egyptian trip. We had a marvellous time and it truly was the catalyst in changing my career. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. After the usual spate of rejections from snobby (British) agents, which I believe it every writer’s baptism of fire, I discovered America and made the decision to be published there. The book has done well there, even though the young heroes are South African, and has already garnered two impressive fiction nominations.

I’m already immersed in the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans (and older ones as well). Although I do not have children of my own, I have an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. My interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, movies, and wondering when I am going to be the next J.K. Rowling. 

My Thoughts:

This book has it all - magic, pharaohs, ancient Egypt, mystery, adventure, and a high-interest plot which is key for a younger audience.  I am so thrilled to see a young adult book out there that has to do with archaeology, I cannot even explain it in words!

This author is a great storyteller, someone who knows her audience and knows who she is writing for.  Kids from upper elementary to middle school will be consumed with this book, especially boys.  I love the appropriateness of this book, something a parent/teacher can safely hand a student and know they are getting a clean read but something that students will be interested in.

The characters are likable, the setting really makes the novel and the overall storyline is something that readers really connect to - highly recommend this book to my readers.


  1. Thank you for a wonderful review and for hosting me on your site!

  2. Woohoo fantastic review! Thanks so much Lindsay!