Egypt’s past and present are brought vividly to life in this highly distinctive novel in which the themes of freedom and constraint run in parallel. Shabti’s story begins as he awakes unsure as to who he is. Captured by Master Hob, he is enslaved. Amy’s more modern tale sees her reluctantly arrive in Egypt as she joins her archaeologist father on a televised dig.
Comparison is drawn between Shabti and Amy’s stories as they both have secrets that they must address. There is an inescapable, crushing urgency to the narrative as we see the closed, insular nature of their respective environments – a slave colony and a tomb.
Adlington’s writing is crisp and clear and the parallels she draws between the two worlds is subtly nuanced. Issues about memory, acceptance and denial are raised by the dual narrative. A clever, poignant novel that skilfully straddles two ages, succeeding in that difficult balance of being a page-turner whilst also allowing genuine reflection.