cover image Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead

Michael Northrop. Scholastic Press, $12.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-545-72338-1

Northrop (Surrounded by Sharks) lays the groundwork for his five-book multiplatform TombQuest series, in which a 12-year-old boy and his know-it-all best friend fight immortal Egyptian menaces while readers participate via online games. Alex Sennefer suffers from a mysterious debilitating disease, which his Egyptologist mother cures by using a lost spell from the Book of the Dead. While the spell saves Alex’s life, it also brings evil mummies to life and summons a plague of scorpions, among other bizarre events. Using new magical abilities, Alex and his friend Ren attempt to fend off malevolent Death Walkers and the secretive Order, which has abducted Alex’s mother, along with the Lost Spells. Their only ally: scholarly Dr. Todtman, part of a group known as the Keepers. The story begins leisurely, as Northrop devotes attention to setup and worldbuilding, before shifting into high gear once the nature of the threat is revealed. If this installment doesn’t take full advantage of its Egyptian themes, it remains a fun read with solid action sequences and some gruesome imagery. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Jan.)