A few weeks ago, I was wandering around Twitter, trailing Lucky Charms and kitten purrs. I saw a little exchange between a couple authors, one whom I followed and one I didn’t — the latter was searching for book reviewers for her new release. I ventured that I review the occasional book, she sent me an email about her Egyptian historical fiction, and I bit the bait. I’m a sucker for Egypt. I’ve always had a thing for Egypt. Exploring a pyramid has been on my bucket list ever since I read Lynn Beach’s Phantom Valley books when I was a kid. Also, Cleopatra? Enough said.
I’d give Kiya: Hope of the Pharoah four stars. *There are a few spoilers below, but nothing major.*
The story begins with Naomi, a Hebrew girl living in Egypt, taking the place of a beloved sister when the Pharoah’s man comes to find him a new wife. Naomi is taken to the palace and renamed Kiya. She is married off to the Pharoah Akenaten, and he sees her as a gift from Aten, sent to bear him a healthy son. The stakes are clear (if Kiya fails to bear a son, she dies), but they have additional layers compounded by Akenaten’s scheming first wife, Nefertiti.
Kiya makes friends with the other wives and soon becomes pregnant.
I enjoyed the characters of the story immensely. Katie wove together a tapestry of a world before our time in a fluid, nuanced way. Kiya was a strong lead, and she was easy to cheer for. The only qualm I had about the characters is that I would have liked to see a bit more in the realm of shades of gray. The characters we were supposed to like were likable, and the characters we were supposed to loathe (Nefertiti and her daughters, Ay, etc.) were pretty predictably awful. As Kiya develops affection for her unstable but loving husband Akenaten, she also develops an attraction to the Hebrew guard who escorts her back and forth. I found at the end of the book that I liked and pitied Akenaten more than Malachi, who (to me) jeopardized Kiya’s safety out of his own selfishness multiple times throughout the story, including showing affection for her while in the same room as concubines.
The book kept me reading to find out what would happen to Kiya and the Pharoah with Nefertiti’s clear scheming at every turn. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone with a love of Egypt and adventure. While a few historical details don’t quite fit, I didn’t find anything to impede my suspension of disbelief while reading. (Hey, BA in History here. I nitpick. The movie Troy drove me nuts throughout its entirety because they had the sun rising in the west every day.)
🙂 Go pick up a copy of Kiya. You won’t regret it.
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