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Asp of Ascension (A Nefertari Hughes Mystery)

by B.R. Myers

Veronica Mars meets Indiana Jones in a fast-paced teen mystery that will appeal to lovers of the supernatural and history buffs. Nefertari “Terry” Hughes wants to keep a low profile at her new school, but when the 16-year-old inadvertently becomes wrapped up in a mystery involving a missing artifact and the disappearance of a girl 50 years earlier, she finds the spotlight hard to avoid. The fact that she has also attracted the attention of the school’s cute basketball star isn’t helping the reclusive girl stay in the shadows either.

Asp of Ascension B.R. MyersTerry has good reasons for wanting to keep to herself: her father is a renowned archaeologist whose job overseeing the installation of an Egyptian display at the local museum has prompted a move to a new town. Though Terry is used to bouncing from one school to another when not on archaeological digs with her parents, she is wary of becoming too attached to one place, knowing that she’ll be moving again before long. But since a car accident the previous year, which killed her mother and left her with a disability, Terry is even less willing to open up about her life to strangers.

When her dad falls into an unexplained coma and she becomes more entwined in the mystery, Terry realizes she can’t handle everything on her own and teams up with the novel’s strongest characters: her friends Maude, Fraser, and Zach. All three teens are well defined and realistic, and the quirky but loyal Maude steals every scene she’s in. With her pink-striped hair and candy obsession, Maude is an adorably silly foil to the quiet and serious Terry.

While author B.R. Myers makes it easy to relate to the story’s younger characters, the adults aren’t treated with as much attention. Sarah, the museum curator, and Dr. Mullaca, the Egyptologist, are both crucial to the story’s plot, yet until the conclusion they’re often relegated to the periphery. This makes elements of the reveal feel like they’ve come out of nowhere, and undermines an otherwise fun and intriguing story.