The Eye of Ra

Written by Ben Gartner
Review by J. Lynn Else

During a hike in the Colorado mountains, John and Sarah find a cave with a strange marking carved inside. When Sarah traces its outline, the siblings are transported to ancient Egypt during the time of King Djoser. They meet the son of Imhotep. Soon, it’s discovered there’s a thief at the pyramid site. Someone is stealing the heads of statues. Can Sarah and John help catch the culprit and find a way home at the same time?

Starting their journey, Sarah and John emerge from the Step Pyramid. However, the structure isn’t well-described. The main characters just keep muttering “pyramid” over and over. The Step Pyramid looks a lot different than the Giza pyramids, so it’s confusing why the siblings didn’t comment on that fact to help center the reader in space (especially since the cover shows a Giza-like pyramid). There are incorrect references that stand out. Imhotep’s wife says, “Money comes and goes.” Ancient Egyptians didn’t use money. It was a barter system, and John’s reference to “cash” wouldn’t have made sense to the Egyptians. Moreover, Imhotep’s son explains how to play Senet by rolling “dice.” They used two-sided casting sticks, not dice.

Plot-wise, the magical means that transports two Colorado kids to ancient Egypt is never plausibly explained. Are these magic symbols all over the world or just that one particular cave? Additionally, the thief thread is too easily resolved. It feels haphazardly thrown in to add intrigue and falls flat.

There are enjoyable characters Sarah and John meet. Furthermore, I appreciated how Gartner explored and developed John’s feelings about his family moving away from Colorado. In the end, though, this book comes up sadly short. While some things are well-researched, many details were missed and weighed down my enjoyment of this time-traveling adventure.