Title: Orphan of the Sun
Gill Harvey
ISBN: 0747579008
Publisher: Bloomsbury
First Published: 2006
No. of pages: 310

Rating: 4/5

Thirteen-year-old orphan, Meryt-Re, lives with her uncle’s family in the ancient Egyptian village of Set Maat, the home of the pharaohs’ tomb-builders. Under pressure to marry Ramose, a dull, plodding stonecutter, she resists, and begs for guidance from the gods, but she’s unable to decipher the message behind her vivid dreams. When her cousin falls gravely ill, her uncle accuses her of turning the gods against him and banishes her from the house. Meanwhile, Meryt discovers other strange and suspicious activities going on in the village: Why is Userkaf, a boisterous draughtsman, trying to cause trouble by making accusations against one of the foremen? And why is his servant girl stealing precious and holy gold amulets from the embalmers? Meryt’s worried too, that her aunt Tia seems to think that her father has not gone peacefully to the Next World, and when she discovers Tia is not the only other person to have been making offerings to him in his tomb, she is even more puzzled. It is not until she meets Teti, the village wise woman, that Meryt can begin to unravel the meaning of her dreams and in so doing, solve the mysteries surrounding her.

Meryt-Re is a very likeable character and it’s very easy to identify with the troubling times she faces. Being solely dependent on the good will of her uncle, she struggles to stay in his good graces in a time when superstition is rife, especially as she has a rather troubling gift is one she would prefer not to have and this has made him wary of his niece. This makes for an interesting study in family dynamics; an excellent backdrop against which the mystery unfolds as Meryt-Re uses her unusual abilities to determine the truth in some disturbing events in her life.

The historical aspect of this novel is intriguing in itself and the rich world of ancient Egypt has new life breathed into it through Gill Harvey’s writing and the sights and sounds of ancient Egyptian are vividly drawn, so that the reader really feels a part of that era.

This book is a treasure not to be missed!