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Cover image for Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, ©2007.
Physical Description:
[344] pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
bk. 1.
Twelve-year-old Theo uses arcane knowledge and her own special talent when she encounters two secret societies, one sworn to protect the world from ancient Egyptian magic and one planning to harness it to bring chaos to the world, both of which want a valuable artifact stolen from the London museum for which her parents work.
Added Author:


Call Number
J LaFevers, R.
J LaFevers, R.
J LaFevers, R.

On Order



Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo--and only Theo--who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum.

When Theo's mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt--a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb--Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won't be easy . . . she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she's ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country--and herself!

Author Notes

R. L. LaFevers was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of the Theodosia series, the Lowthar's Blade series, the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series, and the His Fair Assassin Trilogy.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Eleven-year-old Theodosia Elizabeth Throckmorton possesses the unique ability to see curses on Ancient Egyptian artifacts and remove them. She and her father spend most of their days working inside the Museum of Antiquities and Legends in London, awaiting her archaeologist mother's finds. She hides her talent from everyone, until a fabulous and extremely cursed artifact, called the Heart of Egypt, is stolen from the museum. Theo must join forces with Lord Wigmere and the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, who believe in her ability to save her brother and England from the Serpents of Chaos. Charlotte Perry brings to life the charming character in R. L. LaFevers's novel (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), capturing the various British accents and giving perfect voice to brave but precocious Theo, her preoccupied parents, and the villainous Von Braggenschnott. The book is filled with wonderful secondary characters, including the talented pickpocket Will and the agreeable, intelligent Lord Wigmere. The settings are perfectly presented, the characters are well developed, and the plot is captivating and filled with ancient Egyptian lore and mystery. Listeners will be eager to read/listen to the other books in the series.-Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Frankly, I'm not fond of surprises, as the ones around here tend to be rather wicked." There are surprises aplenty in LaFevers's spirited debut, a sort of Indiana Jones for girls and a perfect blend of mystery and humor. Set in turn-of-the-20th-century London, it involves 11-year-old Theodosia Throckmorton, who "assists" her parents in their Museum of Legends and Antiquities. But Theo is the only one who can tell when ancient artifacts arriving at the museum bear a curse--and as new acquisitions arrive, she makes it her business to secretly remove any lingering curses by using recipes she finds in her constant research. Her mother returns home from a dig with the Heart of Egypt, a scarab amulet that was used as a death marker for the Pharaohs. When the amulet goes missing, Theo's search for it leads her to Lord Wigmere, the leader of an underground society that watches for magical artifacts entering England. The Heart of Egypt, it turns out, possesses a particularly nasty curse, "designed to weaken a nation, to make it easy to conquer." Crops begin to fail and a flu epidemic overtakes the nation. To break the curse, the Heart must be returned to the tomb from which it was taken--and, of course, it falls to Theo to recover the Heart. Loads of evocative Egyptian history and an oh-so-plucky, resourceful narrator make this the first volume in a series to watch. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Theodosia Throckmorton has an uncanny ability to detect curses and black magic. This skill leads her to the Valley of the Kings to return an artifact that threatens the fate of the world. Though some characters are wooden (the villains are of the mustache-twirling variety), the story is bolstered by fast-paced action and fascinating Egyptian lore. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Intrepid Theodosia, age 11, narrates a fantasy steeped in invented and authentic Egyptology, clashing secret societies and pre-WWI European intrigue. Theo's workaholic father runs the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, its inferiority complex (with the British Museum) assuaged by the artifacts that Mum ships from her excavation of Thutmose III's tomb. Theo obsessively researches ancient Egypt, uncannily able to physically intuit and ameliorate curses and "black magic" intact in the ancient objects surrounding her. A complex plot involving the return of the bejeweled "Heart of Egypt" to its proper place in Thutmose III's tomb pits Theo against evildoers bent on destabilizing Europe and seizing power. LaFevers overplays happenstance and Theo's naivet as unreliable narrator to pass off bits of fortuitous plotting. Theo careens off to both Giza and the Valley of the Kings without her parents' knowledge. Stock characters and a school of red herrings crowd the narrative; the cracking good tomb showdown rewards persistent--or unfussy--readers. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

You'd be surprised by how many things come into the museum loaded with curses--bad ones, says 11-year-old Theodosia, whose parents run London's Museum of Legends and Antiquities. The twentieth century has just begun, and Theodosia's mum, an archaeologist, has recently returned from Egypt with crates of artifacts. Only Theodosia can feel the objects' dark magic, which, after consulting ancient texts, she has learned to remove. Then a sacred amulet disappears, and during her search, Theodosia stumbles into a terrifying battle between international secret societies. Readers won't look to this thrilling adventure for subtle characterizations (most fit squarely into good and evil camps) or neat end-knots in the sprawling plot's many threads. It's the delicious, precise, and atmospheric details (nicely extended in Tanaka's few, stylized illustrations) that will capture and hold readers, from the contents of Theodosia's curse-removing kit to descriptions of the museum after hours, when Theodosia sleeps in a sarcophagus to ward off the curses of disgruntled dead things. Kids who feel overlooked by their own distracted parents may feel a tug of recognition as Theodosia yearns for attention, and those interested in archaeology will be drawn to the story's questions about the ownership and responsible treatment of ancient artifacts. A sure bet for Harry Potter fans as well as Joan Aiken's and Eva Ibbotson's readers. This imaginative, supernatural mystery will find word-of-mouth popularity. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2007 Booklist