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ALC Review: The Antiquity Affair by Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne


Release date: 6 June 2023

Rating: 3.5/5

Narrators: Brittany Pressley and Holly Linneman

Synopsis: An archaeologist’s estranged daughters.


1907: The dawn of Egyptology is a time of imperialism and plunder, opulence and unrest, and Dr. Warren Ford, esteemed archaeologist, is the man of the hour. His daughters—intellectual Lila, on the eve of her debut as a Manhattan socialite, and nonconformist Tess, who dreams of following in his footsteps—have always lived in his shadow, and their lives couldn’t feel more different. But when a secretive organization seeks to find a lost relic legendary for its dangerous power, it isn’t Dr. Ford they turn to—it’s his two remarkable daughters.

A legendary artifact known as the Serpent’s Crown.


Rumored to reside in the mysterious Tomb of the Five Ladies, the Serpent’s Crown will only be found by solving a seemingly impossible riddle that will open the tomb—and the organization believes that one of the Ford daughters holds the key to deciphering the code. What was supposed to be an elegant debutante ball for elder sister Lila quickly turns sinister when Tess is kidnapped and put on a ship across the Atlantic. When Lila and her father realize that Tess’s life is in danger, they must act quickly to track her down and stop the Serpent’s Crown from falling into the wrong hands.


A puzzle three millennia in the making

A race for the Crown begins, with Lila and her father in hot pursuit of the organization and Tess. With lives at stake, the fractured family must keep their wits about them, find the artifact, and escape the ruthless men who are also determined to possess the Crown and use it to their own advantage—no matter the cost.


In this women-centered nod to the beloved Indiana Jones stories, The Antiquity Affair is a high-stakes, trans-Atlantic thrill ride, with the page-turning excitement and romance of classic adventure novels and a poignant story of sisterhood at its core

 

Review

I love a good historical adventure novel every now and then between epic and high fantasy romps. The Antiquity Affair certainly delivers adventure. In some ways, it far exceeded expectations; in many others, it didn’t meet them. I loved the climactic action and the end was an endearing testament to the strength of sisterly love. I loved the Indiana Jones movies when I was a child, with the sweeping locations and heart-stopping perilous action. The Antiquity Affair chronicles the adventures of Lila and Tess Ford--sisters who grew up with an archaeologist for a father and both of whom have a penchant for the puzzle solving aspects of his profession. Lila, a brilliant mathematician and linguist, and Tess, a brilliant puzzle solver, race through New York, Paris, and Egypt to outwit those who want to steal a priceless Egyptian artifact and use its power to dominate the country and then the world. While that all seems like it would serve to be a perfect recipe for a fast-paced story, in reality, the pacing lagged a bit and the characters were a bit anachronistic for the time period.

For our heroines, we have two sisters, Lila and Tess Ford. Both are brilliant in their own ways. Tess has a knack for solving riddles and a habit of doing what proper girls of polite, turn-of-the-century society do not—she doesn’t wear frilly stuff or shy away from getting a little dirt under her fingernails. Lila has a brilliant mind for ciphers, numbers, and languages and resides squarely in the midst of the debutantes of New York. In fact, we start the novel at her coming out party. The two find their way all the way over to Egypt in search of an artifact that supposedly only a Ford sister can find.


For the first half of the book, the sisters fall into situations completely out of their personality realms. They discover their hidden strengths and their need for one another. Then they come together and have an adventure of their own. It is the part before the coming together that provides a bit of a lag for the story. Instead of the pace quickly transporting each sister to her intended destination, the plot stagnated for me quite a bit. Instead of experiencing arm-chair travel, I was stuck in a locked room with each sister while she tried to sort out her predicament. I expected to see a molding within a sprawling setting, but I got very slow pacing and poor character development. It was not until the two sisters were together and they had to travel out in the open with each other and face conflict together that the pace picked up and the adventure started.

Additionally, while this is categorized as historical fiction, I find that recently there is an increasing trend to make disclaimers in books and then use those disclaimers to take liberties with the historical aspects of whichever era a book is set in, which smacks of pandering and lazy storytelling to me. I feel historical fiction novels that wish to present modern views on social issues could work a bit harder to use what modernity existed at the time into the narrative instead of just dropping anachronistic aspects into a story and calling it “fiction” as an excuse.


As for the narration, I quite enjoyed it. The separate narrators for each sister made the novel much easier to keep track of, as both sisters narrate the adventure separately in a dual point of view. The only drawback from the narration was the changes in voices of the supporting characters when each sister took over for the telling. I also had a hard time keeping track of which supporting character was which, no matter the narrator. With a large cast of evil folks, that was a chore to manage.


Overall, 3.5 out of 5 for the story. The pacing in the first 50-60% lagged too much for me, especially for a supposedly Indiana Jones-esque novel. 4/5 for the narration.


My thanks to Libro.fm and Harper Muse for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.

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