cover image The Shadow Prince (The Shadow Prince #1)

The Shadow Prince (The Shadow Prince #1)

David Anthony Durham. Tu, $21.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-64379-428-0

In an inventive alternate Egypt where technology is solar-powered, dark brown–skinned orphan Ash, 11, has resigned himself to a prosaic life of bullying and drudgery in his desert village. On the eve of his 12th birthday, however, the discovery that he shares a birthday with Prince Khufu shatters his unexceptional existence, as it enables him to compete to become the future pharaoh’s shadow, occupying the position of confidante, friend, and bodyguard. To win, Ash must overcome nine other highly trained candidates in a divine tournament filled with demons, magic, and deadly tasks proctored by gods. Though Ash befriends fellow competitors Seret, a talking lioness, and small, wavy-haired boy Gilli, not everyone he meets can be trusted. Set—god of chaos—harbors nefarious plans for the candidates, forcing Ash and his newfound friends into a battle to save Egypt itself. Though the story is hampered by tropes and limited descriptiveness, rapid plot progression smooths over any unevenness, while a cast of mostly well-rounded characters infuses the narrative with warmth. Bolstered by an accessible voice, Durham’s middle grade debut weaves the power of renewable energy into a rollicking tale of gods and monsters. Back matter includes a glossary of the gods, as well as online resources. Ages 8–13. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (Oct.)