The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle by Pamela Rushby
Illus. by Nelle May Pierce. Walker Books Australia, 2020. ISBN:
(Age: 8-12). Highly recommended. Hatshepsut Lambton (Hattie) is no stranger to tragedy. Her name is a reminder that when her parents disappeared, she was left outside the Egyptian tomb she is named after and now her guardian, Uncle Heracles, seems to have been eaten by a crocodile. Her fate is to go and live with another set of distant unknown relatives. Great-uncle Sisyphus and Great-aunt Iphigenia live in a castle in the misty marshes near Ely. The year is 1873 and to help restore their crumbling castle Hattie's great-aunt, a respected Egyptologist, performs Mummy unwrapping parties at the homes of the wealthy London set. Her Great aunt has two assistants, Edgar and Edwina Raven, who manage the finances and organisation of the parties for her.
Hattie is grateful to be away from boarding school at last and to have a home to live in, compared to the lonely existence she has endured up to this point. But the Ravens don't seem too impressed with having Hattie in the house and seem to have their own agenda. The more Hattie learns about Egypt the more she has doubts about whether it is right to destroy the bodies of the ancient Egyptians and considers whether she can convince her Aunt to stop the parties altogether. But the Ravens are determined it will continue, and they will not allow a small child to come between them and their growing little nest egg. Suddenly, Mummies become impossible to buy in England when it becomes illegal to export them from Egypt, so the whole crew set out on a long voyage up the Nile to obtain some more for the parties. The voyage provides an opportunity for Hattie's great aunt and uncle to show her many tombs and temples along the way and catch up with old friends they have left in Egypt.
This novel is quite challenging to read as it is very descriptive and in-depth. Lovers of Egyptology will thoroughly enjoy the details included throughout the story including many descriptions of what Hattie sees in Egypt and the customs and culture of the people she encounters on her journey. It would make a great class novel to read while studying the History unit on Ancient Egypt in Year 7. Themes: Orphans, Egypt - History, Castles, Smuggling, Mummies.