Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Mara, an intelligent but ill-used slave in ancient Egypt, is swept from everything she knows when she is bought and threatened by two different men who have noticed her wits and wishes to use them to his advantage. The work is easy, and the rewards are great. If she is caught by either working for the other, she will be killed. In essence, gambling with her intelligence to free herself, or disobey and die; no other option is given her.

Doing spy work for both sides by disguising herself as the translator for the fiancee of the Pharoah’s brother proves to be more dangerous than she ever bargained for. To keep both men satisfied, she must use every ounce of brilliance to save her life. She also never bargained, or expected in any way, to fall in love with one of her masters. When both masters discover her duplicity, the fate of Egypt ultimately rests on who her loyalties are, and if she chooses to gamble with her life one last time.


This book is really intriguing, and a bit of a nail-biter. I just reread it, the first time being when I was about 14. It was better the first time because I obviously didn’t know what was going to happen.

Being much more critical now than I used to be, it was still enjoyable. There aren’t any major problems I had with it. Just a side note, if you hate romance, this book is not for you. The romance is fairly  important to the plot.

The one weak part in the book was probably the dialogue. McGraw was trying really hard to capture how long ago this was in their speech, but it may have been overdone. Using thee, thou, and thine made it feel too abrupt. She also added in exclamations such as ‘son of Osiris!’ or ‘I swear on my ka!’, which didn’t bother me, but every single person seemed to not be able to remember her name. To add in another strange factor, Mara had blue eyes. Everyone commented on them, and everyone called her whatever came to their mind. ‘Lotus-eyed maid’, ‘face-of-the-lily’, you get the idea. Not exactly the appearance of one who is trying to be inconspicuous.

I’ve read several other books by McGraw, and my sister and I always agree that the author, in every single book, makes it drag a little in the middle. There was a little of that in this book, but for me the overall plot of double-spy was intriguing enough to keep me reading. Honestly, I don’t know why that double-spy idea isn’t more popular in books or movies; everyone is intrigued with futuristic plots that are almost all the same.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Violence: 3/10 (one man was killed, several are whipped, but nothing gory. There was a creepy part in which they break into a tomb that is a bit intense)

Language: 0/10

Inappropriateness/Romance: 3/10 (several kisses and some flirting)

Audience: Ages 10 and up


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