________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 2. . . .September 11, 2015


Asp of Ascension. (A Nefertari Hughes Mystery).

B. R. Myers.
Halifax, NS: Fierce Ink Press, 2015.
308 pp., trade pbk., $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-92774-662-2

Grades 8-10. Ages 13-15.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Terry had three rules for surviving high school:
1. Donít attract attention.
2. Don't get involved.
3. Don't make trouble.

She squirmed in the front row, trying to shrink into her hoodie, wishing it were big enough to hide in.

"Brett Furlong", Ms. Bernard said. Her eyes never left the paper held in front of her pointed noise. A grunt from the back of the class was the only response.

Terry didn't need to glance behind to know it was one of the three varsity jackets in the very back. They'd sauntered in after the bell rang smelling of spicy body spray. She knew the type: cocky, stupid and impulsive. A bad combination.

Her finger traced a crude sentence that had been etched into the desk's surface, probably with the tip of a protractor.

Crystal Peters is a whore.

Someone had used a pen to mark in the lines, as if gouging the letters permanently into the surface wasn't enough. Terry slid her textbook across the desk, covering the sentence. A heavy sensation from inside pulled down her shoulders. After moving to three different high schools in six months she discovered the safest course of action was to stay under the radar and knowing who to avoid was essential. Everyone could be categorized .. except for herself. There was no identity brand for Terry. She didn't belong in this stuffy classroom. She didn't belong in this grey northern city. She didn't belong anywhere.


Terry's three rules are great Ė if she could stick to them. They don't work very well when your name is Neferteri, your father is a famous Egyptologist, your first period history teacher is an ancient Egypt freak, and the school basketball hero is assigned to work with you on a Cleopatra project worth half the year's grade. Well, the last doesn't sound too bad, but Zach is the 'property' of the school queen who is prepared to make Terry's life even more miserable than the death of her mother a year previously in the same accident that left Terry with a permanently disabled knee had already done. So far, this sounds like your typical teen aged angst story but it is much more than that. There is the mystery of the sarcophagus reputed to contain the mummified remains of Cleopatra, herself, which has been lent to a rather obscure museum in the rather obscure town of Jefferson, the publicity for which is hopefully going to rescue the museum, and the town, from its/their financial crises. And there is the unspecified curse that will descend from on high if the sarcophogus is forced open rather than being opened with the as yet undiscovered key. The whole thing is an amazing mix of reality, mystery, and fantasy but it works! Terry is a totally believable character, and likable as well; the prom queen is all too recognizable; the basketball hero has unexpected weaknesses and talents; and the really peculiar girl, a fellow outcast turns out to be an unexpectedly good friend. Asp of Ascension is a really gripping tale that will keep readers on the edge of their chairs right to the end.

Highly Recommended.

Mary Thomas lives in Winnipeg, MB, and works from time to time in schools there. If Jefferson High is typical, she's glad that she mostly works at the elementary levels!

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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