- Author's Voice
- World Building
Amy and Dan Cahill have survived another betrayal and murder attempt from their relatives – this time from the Kabra siblings, Ian and Natalie. But this is not all. Alistair Oh, who they thought sacrificed himself to save them, is in fact pretty much alive, no doubt moving on to the next Clue, which is hidden in Egypt, the land of the Pharaos. The two orphans have had just about enough from people pretending to want to help them, only to have their hopes crushed every time in a cruel way. With Nellie Gomez, the only person they can trust in the whole wide world, and their cat, Saladin, they follow their ancestors’ clues to their next destination, not knowing that dealing with so many tombs in a country with so much ancient history can very well get them buried in one of them, too. And there always is a volunteer from their own family to do the honors regarding the matter of their death, as long as they can stop the two siblings from moving on in this crazy treasure hunt around the globe…
I don’t know what to praise first in Beyond the Grave. The writing style? The fast pace that leaves you gasping for air, looking for one – just one! – breather to help stop your head from spinning? The many riddles laid throughout this part of the series? The endless information on ancient Egyptian history and mythology – which never fails to intrigue even the most indifferent person in the world? Or the dark turn that things seem to have taken here?
Jude Watson did a fantastic job in bringing the series back to the level of my expectations. Beyond the Grave starts with a bang, and the thrill doesn’t seem to stop – not even when the book ends, because it leaves you hanging and practically trembling in your boots! Dan and Amy can’t take a single breath and rest a bit – and we’re talking cover-to-cover here! I’m surprised they managed to even get some sleep for God’s sake! And it was amazing! Because after all the useless research and boring plot of the previous book, this was one thing I definitely needed. All those riddles, the clues left from Grace, the hunt in and out of the ancient tombs… Wonderful, I tell you! The danger was behind every corner, so close you could almost taste it. I think I chewed off a nail or two during a couple of scenes with increased tension while reading it!
Let’s not forget that we’re dealing with Egypt here, as well. Who doesn’t like all the mystery and the ancient history of this country that has had so much to offer to archaeology? Pyramids. The Nile. Tombs. Temples. Goodness, no wonder the kids often forgot that they were not there for tourism but to look for something. And let’s admit it, Egyptian grounds and ruins always pop up when we’re dealing with mystery in most books that belong on this category. It’s too much of a temptation to resist – the country’s mythology and ancient secrets are too good of a thrill to pass up.
But what really raised the series to its previous glory, was the dark way in which both Dan and Amy seem to develop. It was long overdue, and yet perfectly timed. It was about time they started questioning Grace’s motives for putting them in so much danger. It wasn’t pretty, and it really ripped my heart in two to see them fighting each other in such a dirty way, but it showed that they were not mindless little puppets following their dead grandma’s whims. That they have done some thinking, that they, too, wonder how many of their morals can stay the way they are until this race across the world and against their own flesh and blood is over. And yet… It wouldn’t have been better timed. Right after Ian’s betrayal, Amy just had to come out of it bitter and suspicious of everything and everyone. It was the logical thing to do, something any teenager her age would be like after all the hurt they had to experience. And Jude Watson orchestrated it with precision – she took the awkward OOCness of the 3rd book, and turned it into her favor. She used it to keep the main characters in-character, and make them take that first hard step into growing up, into understanding the dark, unforgivable ways in which the adult world operates. And it was perfection in its purest form. Because Amy and Dan may not have made it emotionally unscathed so far, but they are getting stronger, smarter, and better in this “family game” than what their relatives have first thought them to be. It finally makes sense why they’re all trying to stop those two – they’re scared of them, because, despite having very little money and connections, they still move forward, and that makes them dangerous opponents.
Beyond the Grave has raised the stakes now. I don’t know how the rest of the writers will manage to keep up with the level established in this book by Watson, but I’m dying to find out!