Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Book #1)

by R. L. LaFevers

Ebook, 2008



Local notes

PB LaF (copy 2)




HMH Books for Young Readers (2008), Edition: Reprint, 356 pages


Twelve-year-old Theo uses arcane knowledge and her own special talent when she encounters two secret societies, one sworn to protect the world from ancient Egyptian magic and one planning to harness it to bring chaos to the world, both of which want a valuable artifact stolen from the London museum for which her parents work.


Agatha Award (Nominee — 2007)
Nēnē Award (Nominee — 2009)
Iowa Children's Choice Award (Nominee — 2013)


Original publication date


User reviews

LibraryThing member sensitivemuse
Think of a combination of Nancy Drew and a little bit of Indiana Jones and you have Theo. I really did enjoy reading this book. It had a perfect blend of mystery, adventure, and paranormal characteristics that made the book enjoyable for all ages.

Not only was Theo not a typical girl but she was
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curious, outspoken, and an adventure seeker who was not afraid of getting into danger. Her unique gift of finding the ancient curses and dispelling them is fun and different and I enjoyed her process of removing these curses from these items despite how oblivious her parents are. She does get a little lippy towards people older than her, but I like this part of her personality. It adds more to her stubborn character and adds more to her personality which makes the book all the more fun to read.

The plot was really good. As usual, there is an underlying main plot underneath a few mini story arcs. I like it, although it’s nothing really new or different from other novels like this one but it provides the adventure to the story and when Theo does eventually get involved it adds more adventure and quickens the plot pace. My favorite bit was when Theo impresses a crowd with her removal of a particular curse. It gave me a triumphant feeling and I cheered her on as so many adults just seem to push her away just because she’s just a child. However, Theo does have flaws, and sometimes her ability to remove the curse does backfire (and it has somewhat comedic consequences). The ending provides for much of the action, which gives the story a great climax and makes way for the second book.

What’s also great about this story is the pace is steady and you’re not slowed down at any time of the point. At each scene, you’re there for a good time before moving onto the next one and there’s no redundancy or over-repetitiveness. This book had a wonderful plot, an outstanding main character who’s fun to read, and I think this is going to be a very exciting fun filled series! I most definitely recommend this book for people of all ages.
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LibraryThing member wiremonkey
Theodosia Throckmorton (Theo for short), the young daughter of the curator of the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London, is very busy these days. The year is 1906, and the world’s western powers are busily excavating the treasures of ancient Egypt and hauling them across the ocean to their
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respective nations. Her parents, keen participants in this race for the world’s history, are classic workaholics, and if it weren’t for the fact that she was kept so busy de-cursing all the treasures in the museum, Theo would probably begin to resent spending so much time there. When her mother returns home from a long excavation in Egypt laden with treasures from an ancient pharaoh’s tomb, Theo is faced with an object bearing the most horrifying curse she had ever encountered, a curse that could destroy Britain if it is not placed back inside the tomb where it was found. Thus begins a fast paced mystery adventure full of secret sects, ancient curses, and possessed cats.

Written in the first person through the voice of Theodosia, LaFevers recreates the dark and gloomy streets of Edwardian Britain. An absent minded curator for a father, a globe trotting, adventurous mother and a little brother who likes to wreak havoc and who secretly wishes his sister didn’t treat him like mud, compliment the dry wit and intelligence of Theodosia herself. Although the plot sometimes hinges on too many coincidences, and some of the character’s motivation do not seem to be justified (for example, the head of the secret sect insists that it must be Theodosia who finds a way to get herself to Egypt and deposit the Heart of Egypt back in the tomb when he has a whole army of young men to do it), it is all in all a fun read, perfect for those who secretly harbor a desire to grow up to be Indiana Jones (like me).
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LibraryThing member little_prof
Theodosia Elizabeth Throckmorten is not your typical 11 year old. Her father runs a museum in Victorian London. Her mother travels to Egypt to pick up artifacts for to display. Theodosia herself sleeps in a sarcophagus and sees curses. Unfortunately, no one else in her family believes her. When her
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mother returns home from the latest trip with the very cursed Heart of Egypt Theodosia knows that she's in trouble. Before long her cat is possessed, her brother is bandaging wounded men in St. Paul's square, and Theodosia has been drawn into a secret society of magicians. Her only allies are a pickpocket named Sticky Will and her own younger brother. Theodosia must harness all of her resources to out wit thieves, spys, agents of the British museum, a ship's ensign and, most terrifingly, her Grandmother Throckmorten. She will cross oceans and tread new continents in her quest to foil the Serpents of Chaos.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
Theodosia Throckmorton practically lives in the museum. Her parents work there and they're so caught up in their work, finding and studying ancient Egyptian artifacts, that they leave her on her own a lot. Luckily, Theo has plenty to keep her busy. There's the curses for one thing. Nearly every
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artifact her parents have brought home lately has been covered in black magic and curses, and Theo is the only one who's able to sense them and get rid of them. When Theo's mother brings home a powerful artifact called the Heart of Egypt, Theo knows right away that it's brimming with powerful curses, but before she can start setting it right, the Heart of Egypt is stolen... and it's up to Theo to get it back.

A rip-roaring fantasy adventure that will delight young (and old) Egyptologists. I really have no idea how much (if any) of the book is based on actual Egyptian myths or artifacts, but I really enjoyed reading it. Although the adventure in the book is neatly wrapped up at the end, it smacks of a series and I'm hoping there will be a sequel!
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LibraryThing member kljoh
The daughter of the curator of the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London, Theodosia spends the majority of her time wandering the museum. This is necessary because only Theodosia can detect and destroy the black magic that infests the ancient artifacts. When her archaeologist mother brings
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home a particularly impressive find, Theodosia will need all of her courage to fight the destructive curses of Ancient Egypt that threaten not only the museum, but the entire country. R. L. LaFevers’ book is an exciting page-turner. Children, especially girls, will easily relate with Theodosia, who is curious, practical and intelligent, but never feels properly appreciated by adults. Though an enjoyable read for many ages, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos is best suited for fourth through eighth graders. This book is highly recommended for the children’s section of public libraries and both elementary and middle school libraries.
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LibraryThing member bimrich
Holds attention, black magic, vile curses, travel to Egypt, smaller museum, British Museum, stabbings, arm in candlewax to remove curses, enemies of Britain, her brother, high 5th, archaeologist Mom & Dad
LibraryThing member barbarasbooks
Theodosia Throckmorton is the daughter of the curator of the Museum of Legends & Antiquities in London, early 20th century. Her mother has just returned from Egypt with a mysterious amulet, Heart of Egypt which is quickly stolen from the museum. Theodosia learns that the amulet is cursed and must
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be returned to Egypt or a curse will bring England to its knees. She enlists the help of her younger brother and a pickpocket named Will to snatch the amulet back from the thieves and then stows away on a boat with her parents to return to Egypt . The thieves find her out and follow her to the tomb, but she manages to escape after returning the amulet and saving the world from destruction.
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LibraryThing member SpongeBobFishpants
This was a wonderful book! Imagine Hermione Granger crossed with Indiana Jones in turn of the century London and you have pretty well got a handle on Theodosia. I thought the story maintained even pacing throughout. The characters were likeable, with the exception of the required bad guys and an
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overly stuffy grandmother. The locations were well-described and the characters internal dialogue was delightful. My only complaints would be the characterization of Theo's father, it seemed overly harsh and I would have liked a better explanation of what happens to some of the bad guys at the very end, otherwise I have nothing but praise. It is clear that LaFevers did a fair amount of research regarding turn of the century Egypt as well. The descriptions, though brief due to the genre of the tale, read as though they were pulled from travel books written during that time period, particularly A. Edward's "A Thousand Miles Up The Nile".

All too often I suspect that adult readers of children's books have a tendency to read the book with an adults eyes. Books like Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos are simply wonderful when read through the eyes of a child, or an adult who can easily suspend their disbelief, otherwise the reader does the author and the story a disservice.
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LibraryThing member Darla
my cover says "Theodosia Throckmorton and the Serpents of Chaos." Apparently, the title got changed. Weird.

Theodosia (her last name remains Throckmorton--it's only the book title that's been changed) is 11 years old and lives in London. The story takes place in 1906.

Theo's parents are
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archaeologists--her father runs a museum of antiquities while her mother is in the field. Her younger brother is away at school, something Theo's been working very hard to avoid for herself for two reasons: she feels it's a waste of her time, and she's busy enough as it is, trying to protect everyone from curses.

See, Theo can sense ancient curses on many of the artifacts in the museum, and she's developed ways of neutralizing them. And nobody else seems to realize they're there at all. With her mother and brother gone, Theo and her father spend most of their time at the museum, where he tends to lose himself in work, and she ends up spending her nights sleeping in a sarcophagus. It's safer.

When Theo's mother returns from her latest expedition, she brings the Heart of Egypt, which is seriously cursed. Theo needs to return it to Egypt, but before she can accomplish that, she teams up with her little brother and a street thief to foil evil villains, falls in with a secret society, accidentally curses her cat,... well, life is pretty hectic.

It's a wonderfully exciting story that doesn't talk down to kids, and provides quite a few situations they (or an adult who remembers being a child) can relate to. Even though Theodosia does possess a special gift, and her parents are neglectful and oblivious to the dangers she sees so clearly, the adults in this book aren't painted as bumbling idiots. Theo's parents and the adults of the secret society do their best with the information they have, and Theo knows when she needs the assistance of adults. Likewise, the children are neither completely helpless nor stupid. It's a nice balance.
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LibraryThing member Sizarie
A wonderful book about a young girl (Theodosia) who can see ancient Egyptian curses. Her parents both work at a museum, her father as a curator and her mother in the field. Theodosia spends more time at the museum trying to dodger her parents, a sneaky curator, and school, than she does at home.
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While at the museum she researches Egyptian curses and tries her best to remove curses from objects that her mother sends back from her digs in Egypt before somebody gets hurt by them.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
This is the first book in the Theodosia Thockmorton series by LaFevers. I actually received the second book "Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris" though the Amazon Vine program and really liked it. After realizing that that was the second book I went back to read this one. The third book "Theodosia
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and the Eyes of Horus" comes out in April of 2010. This was another great Theodosia book. These are wonderful books for kids interested in Egyptian history, magic, mystery, or just reading about a smart young girl who gets into all sorts of trouble.

In this book Theodosia's mother brings back a whole load of artifacts from Egypt and they are rife with curses. Theodosia has a special talent for being able to sense curses and uses her hard-won knowledge to dispel them. One of the artifacts her mother brings back is the Heart of Egypt. The Heart of Egypt will bring about the fall of England if it is not sent back to Egypt quickly. Unfortunately Theodosia's mother is not the only one interested in it, a nefarious group steals it and it is up to Theodosia, a pick pocket named Sticky Will, and Theodosia's brother Henry to find a way to get that artifact back where it belongs.

LaFevers spins an intriguing and interesting mystery surrounding these Egyptian artifacts. I love Theodosia's resourcefulness and practicality, these coupled with the fact that she is only a young girl make for a number of very humorous moments in the book. I think after Theodosia my favorite character is Will, he is resourceful in a different way and another great character. There are many excellent characters, but by far the strength of the book is the mystery and the interesting Egyptian lore included. The plot clips along at a good rate and never becomes boring.

The only thing I didn't like was that LaFevers makes the parents so clueless, in fact most of the adults in the book are rather stupid and helpless. I kind of wish that at least some of the adults in the book had a clue, but it is a good story nonetheless.

I found this book to be a quick and fun read and suitable for children of all ages. There are some scary parts, but nothing too horrible. Overall a very enjoyable read, very in keeping with the second book (Which I read before this one) I am really looking forward to the third book in this series.
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LibraryThing member fotenosfamily
Teodosia and the Serpants of Chaos is about Theodosia and here abilities involving Egyptian magic. Some parts were fun, some parts we thrilling, some parts were boring, and some parts were scary. So it's basically a mixture of all, which makes it a good book. -Naomi Fotenos, age 7, March 27, 2010
LibraryThing member hezann73
Theodosia will appeal to female fans of the Indiania Jones series or The Mummy movies. She's smart, resourceful and a fun heroine. I can't wait for her next adventure.
LibraryThing member scote23
Theodosia's parents run a museum of antiquities in London. Her parents really enjoy bringing back artifacts from Egypt for the museum's collection. What they cannot see, however, are the black magic and curses that are ingrained on these items. Theodosia can. Set just before WWI, this book shows
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what happens when Theodosia's mom brings back the Heart of Egypt, an object of black magic so powerful, it could bring down the entire British empire. Can Theodosia stop it?

I was laughing out loud quite a lot at the beginning of this book. It wasn't quite so funny toward the end, but if it had continued in that vein, it would have been my pick for the Maine Student Book Award winner.
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LibraryThing member jfoster_sf
Hooked from the very first page:
"I don't trust Clive Fagenbush.
How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions? Besides, I'm beginning to suspect he's up to something. What's worse, I think he suspects I'M up to
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something. Which I usually am."
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LibraryThing member bunnyjadwiga
What if one of Walter Emerson's daughters was as daring as the nephew chronicled by Elizabeth Peters? What if Egyptian magic was real? Definitely lively writing, with the independent (and excruciatingly Free Range on an E. Nesbit scale) Theodosia concocting countercharms, removing curses, and
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investigating frightening Egyptian mysteries, mostly in London. A certain element of absurdist and mannerist fantasy, and the major plot turns are somewhat predictable, but an all-around win of a series. I await the future adventures of the clever and resourceful Theodosia with bated breath-- she puts Hermione let alone Harry Potter in the shade.
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LibraryThing member liz.mabry
Fantastic. The heroine is totally believable, and the story is magic and fantasy mixed up with adventure in turn of the century England.
LibraryThing member WriteNowCoach
I've fallen in love with Theodosia and her adventures this summer. Can't wait to pick up the next book in the series. This is perfect reading for bright, curious young people!
LibraryThing member agrudzien
Theodosia is not like other children. For one, her parents are the curators for an Egyptian museum, for another she is able to feel and see the curses the come with many of the objects her mother brings home. When her mother brings home the "Heart of Egypt," it attracts the attention of both the
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Brotherhood of Secret Keepers (those who want to destroy the curses as Theo does) and the Serpents of Chaos (a group whose goal is to use the curses for their own betterment). Theo must get the artifact back to it's rightful place before all of England falls under its curse.

This series would be great for those who enjoyed the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, although there is less about the gods and more about the artifacts and traditions.
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LibraryThing member ehousewright
It's 2006, Theodosia has the unique ability to sense and see ancient Egyptian curses and spells as well as to create protective amulets, and she is lucky enough to live in a museum where she has free reign. Requires suspension of belief on several fronts, but fast-paced and fun to read.
LibraryThing member devafagan
I really enjoyed this one, primarily for Theodosia's character/voice and the overall concept: an girl who practically lives in a museum of antiquities, where she has to secretly defuse all the horrible curses her archeologist parents unknowingly unlock (and don't believe in). And I love that aside
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from the excitement of artifacts and spies and so on, there's this underlying but powerful internal thread: really what Theo wants is to know her parents love her and value her more than the artifacts. I found this aspect of the book quite poignant and moving, particularly the ending.

This is the first book in a series, but it ended in a way I found quite satisfying. On the other hand, I am quite intrigued to see where things go in the next books, especially based on certain events in the last few chapters.
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LibraryThing member Greymowser
Not bad. A definate book for young young adult.
LibraryThing member patriciau
When this little gem came across my desk, it looked like the dark offspring of Lemony Snicket and Edward Gorey. I admit, I was intrigued. When I read the book jacket, I was hooked. An eleven year old girl with the run of London’s Museum of Legends and Antiquities who routinely finds and destroys
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curses attached to ancient objects? Throw in an adventuresome mother, an annoying but clever younger brother and a quick-footed pickpocket, mix in the Cursed Object of all Cursed Objects, add a pinch of world domination and stir with a secret society and you have a delicious, mysterious tale perfect for those young readers looking for something beyond Harry Potter.

Theodosia Elizabeth Throckmorton spends her days, and often her nights, roaming the halls of the Museum where her father curates and her mother provides the artifacts from trips to Eqypt. Theo has an unusual gift — she can see the curses attached to many of the ancient objects her mother excavates for the museum. Using ancient texts and her own ingenuity, Theo routinely cleanses the objects so they can be safely viewed and handled by the museum staff. When Theo’s mother returns from a particularly long stay in Egypt, Theo is thrilled, until she sees the object most prized by her mother — the Heart of Egypt — which is drenched with evil. When the object is stolen from the museum, Theo and younger brother Henry embark on a mission to find it and return it to their mother. Along the way, however, they discover the Heart of Egypt is far more dangerous than they ever imagined, and Theo finds herself stowed away on a boat to Egypt where she must return the Heart to the tomb from which it came.

Action abounds in this wonderfully intelligent story. Theo is a pip of a character – a combination of Violet Baudelaire, Harriet the Spy and a young Amelia Peabody – who proves the point that children are far more capable and clever than adults think. The details involving Egyptian magic, and life inside the museum make the story come alive. Theo is a well-drawn character, and drives most of the action; I wish, though, that her parents were more fleshed out, especially her mother. I imagine we’ll see more of Theo in future stories, so LaFevers has time to complete the characterizations. Highly recommended for grades 5-7.
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LibraryThing member omphalos02
Extremely slow start hampers this book -it takes almost half the book to get interesting - and the mediocre writing doesn't help. Theodosia and her parents practically live in a museum in turn of the century London. Her mother returns from an expediton in Egypt with a powerfully cursed relic and
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only Theodosia can sense its malevolence. With the help of her brother, a pick-pocket street urchin and some rather heavy handed misdirection, she must fight the "Serpents of Chaos" and bring stability back to England.
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LibraryThing member MargaretPemberton

A wonderful fantasy with lots of gothic elements as the enterprising Theodosia foils the villains and Egyptian spirits, who are trying to steal the key to finding an ancient treasure. I really look forward to Theodosia having some more adventures in the future.




½ (178 ratings; 3.9)
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