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Gr 9 Up-On the eve of her debut into 19th-century London society, 18-year-old Agnes Wilkins wishes her life promised more than wearing the right dress for the right party in hopes of finding a suitable husband. She longs for passion like Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy share in the novels of "A Lady." At a "mummy unwrapping party," Lord Showalter hands her a pair of scissors and encourages her to make a cut into the sarcophagus wrappings, where she uncovers a silver jackal's head and impulsively hides it in her dress. Soon after her subterfuge, a suspicious-looking waiter follows her and, ultimately, turns up dead. Agnes is too scared to confess her theft and instead heads to the British Museum to try to find some answers. There she encounters Caedmon, a self-taught man with a passion for Egyptian artifacts. The pair discovers that the artifact is actually a hidden message intended for a spy with allegiance to Napoleon Bonaparte. With only an elderly former English intelligence officer to assist them, the two embark on a mission to stop the French dictator before he harnesses ancient Egyptian magic that would render him unbeatable in battle. The closer the young people get toward solving the mystery, the more dangerous the stakes become. Bradbury offers a grand historical mystery with a pinch of supernatural intrigue and a hint of romance. Readers will be swept up in Agnes's life but may feel beaten over the head with the message that women lacked power during this era. An extremely happy ending leaves room for a possible sequel for those who can't get enough of Agnes and Caedmon's adventures.-Tara Kehoe, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
4Q 3P M J S Bradbury, Jennifer. Wrapped. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 2011. 320p. $16.99. 978-1-4169-9007-9. This is a fast-paced historical novel that engages the reader on many levels by contrasting roles of class, history, and women with modern society. In England during the Regency period, Agnes Wilkins is about to make her debut into society. But Agnes is no ordinary debutante, as she can quote Jane Austen ("A Lady") in ten languages and help end the Napoleonic wars. Agnes is realizing the restraints of her class as she tracks down the mystery of an Egyptian standard. Though she is wooed by a gentleman of her class who invites her to an "Unwrapping," she has feelings for Caedmon, the lackey Egyptologist. At this social event that features a mummy from Egypt, she uncovers an iron artifact with a scrap of linen that predates the mummification. The reader gets a subtle lesson in historical relativism as Agnes goes behind the scenes of the British Museum and connects this jackal head to the Rosetta Stone. The gender issues are dealt with effectively as she uses poignant Austen quotes in response to her mother's constricting attentions to her dress and demeanor. Though slightly different in exact years, this novel would pair well with the classic Count of Monte Cristo as "Old Boney," Napoleon, indirectly influences both protagonists' actions. The differences between the two novels would make an interesting comparison on political and social levels.--Ann Reddy Damon. VOYA June 2011 "A bold and daring historical adventure tale with a brave, quick-thinking heroine at its center." --BOOKLIST, May 1, 2011 "Bradbury offers a grand historical mystery with a pinch of supernatural intrigue and a hint of romance." - SLJ June 2011 "Austen fans who wish her characters would get up off their settees and risk an adventure will enjoy Bradbury's smart, feisty heroine." Kirkus Reviews