Thank you NetGalley and DAW for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: Set against the glory and tragedy of ancient Roman Egypt, this novel brings to life the greatest love story of all time.
Sixteen-year-old Hal Stevens is a budding historical scholar from a small town in Colorado. A virtual outcast at high school, he has only two friends: Roberto the Biker Witch and Cleo Mallawi. Cleo claims to be the reincarnation of Queen Cleopatra. She also believes she's being stalked by an ancient Egyptian demon, Ammut, the Devourer of the Dead.
But when Hal and Roberto find Cleo murdered in the forest near her home, it appears she may have been telling the truth. Her last request sends them journeying to Egypt with famed archaeologist Dr. James Moriarity, where it quickly becomes clear that Cleo has set them on the search of a lifetime: the search for the lost graves of Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
But they are not alone in their search. Cleo's murderers are watching their every move. And not all of them are human... (Amazon)
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Genre: Fantasy / Mystery
Rating: 2 stars
I fell in love with mythology and the history that surrounds it around the age of thirteen-years-old, when my English teacher, at the time, introduced me to Greek myths. That led to me digging up more on my own, and my fascination with Greek mythology evolved into Roman, Egyptian, Norse and Celtic. So, whenever a novel crosses my path that deals in any sort of mythology, I am eagerly and instantly fascinated by it.
I wanted to enjoy Cries from the Lost Island as much as I had hoped that I might, but from the beginning the novel grated on me.
First, I see this listed as an adult novel. There are certainly adult characters in this novel, but this is at best a young adult story with a tone to match.
The characters in this novel were very difficult to read and therefore get to know. Their emotions, especially when they were in the throes of a dramatic moment, tended to shift and swerve from one end to the other so fast that you were left wondering exactly how they were feeling. And aside from the relationship between Roberto and Hal, it's not easy to come to terms with any real transparency about how others feel toward each other. They all act as if they are hiding something up their sleeves while waiting for the right moment to reveal this mysterious tidbit.
As characters—especially Hal—introduced to us different pieces of the story, especially if they were related to the mythology and history of Egypt, it was like sitting in a lecture class. Now, please take into account that I am a huge fan of Egyptian mythology, and history in this regard is fascinating. But there's a way to balance this out into storytelling so that it doesn't make a monotonous overflow of information for the reader, so much so that it can be overwhelming. And it happened often. Frankly, I felt like Roberto half the time, who may—or may not—usually regurgitate the facts that were spewed to him incorrectly.
It was a lot.
Speaking of Roberto, he was by far my favorite part of the story. Any time that the novel might start to lag, even slightly slightly, he was there with humor and a quick wit to save the day. He's an integral part of the story, and even though Halloran is our lead, I deferred to Roberto in preference of character dynamic and strength. Make no mistake, the novel overall is not unpleasant; it propels at a nice speed, and once we reach Egypt things start to move along a lot more smoothly than they did in its rather abrupt beginning.
Nonetheless, I felt like too much in this novel seemed either unbelievable—like the fact that the parents of a distraught teenager who has just lost his best friend would be encouraged and pushed into going across the world to “grieve” rather than receive emotional support at home from those who say they love him—or nonsensical. Such as the ending, which made me made me cringe as Hal and Roberto hauled around the thousands' year old mummified and newly-found corpse of Marcus Antonius (which they shoved into their bag and hauled around for weeks) so that they could take it into an open cave. In this cave, apparently the body of Cleopatra VII had been resting all this time, and by laying Marcus Antonius with her they would ensure that the two could be together in the afterlife, the story's main purpose. It's a nice and romantic notion in the end, but the steps taken to get there are shoddy at best.
All in all, Cries from the Lost Island has a lovely presentation, that unfortunately fell short for me in its delivery.