THE SCARAB HEART
I read Book 2 of this series without reading Book 1. It works as a standalone book, it was easy to pick up the story. I loved it and I am going to read the first book now. It was very well researched. There was lots of mysterious events which kept me turning the pages. A very exciting read.
Jane, Amazon UK Reviewer
I read the first Lizzie Blaylock novel - The Bridge of Dead Things. It was a splendid read. In this second story, 14 year old Lizzie is a little more mature and a little more head strong with her determination to get to the bottom of things. Foul events in the present of 1885 and of the past, in 18th Dynasty Egypt where Lizzie talks to a young girl - very much like herself. The girl's name is Merit. The story in Egypt is of young Merit's love for Smenk-ka-re. A love blighted by sinister plots of a grandfather, etc. (Can't say too much more on that.) In many ways Merit and Smenk-ka-re remind me of Lizzie and Aashiq - one of the workers at the archaeological dig. Involuntary medium or not, Lizzie must cross that bridge to learn first hand of Ancient Egypt, while back in the camp site, even more diabolical things are developing. A very gripping and atmospheric read.
Even better than the first book in the series. Less action for the main character, but a more complex plot, and more realistic characters. I loved the setting of an archaeological dig in Egypt. I would've loved to be sneaking around in the ruins at 14. The only things I didn't find believable were her feelings for her friend. Although it paralelled the ghosts' relationships, I didn't see any reason why Lizzy would have such strong feelings.
November 26, 2020
I had read The Involuntary Medium first and so I was already hooked on to Lizzy as a character. This second one went up to higher level and makes one want to read more of Lizzy's exploits in the future. Michael has obviously done a ton of research on ancient Egypt. There is so much that is still not certain about that period around Akhenaton's reign but this story seamlessly connects all the dots and makes it very believable. I am fond of all of Michael's works. I would like to encourage those who have read this series, to go over to Michael's other series Send For Octavius Guy. While that is very different from this series, any reader who likes a good story well told, will enjoy a different genre immensely. I read both series and love them both.
October 25, 2019
Oh! I just finished reading this book and my heart breaks for the characters! It is an extremely detailed historical mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the very last page! With twists and turns in every chapter, sometimes on every page, I wanted to read it all in one sitting, but alas, life does not permit that very often.
I have had the great honor of communicating with the author throughout the reading process and even took the time to read the author notes at the end that talk about who, what, when, and where in history a lot of the parts of the story are based on.
I read book 1 and then went straight into reading book 2 and I am so glad that I did!
This book has been well edited, well written, and a great pleasure to read. I never thought I would enjoy historical mysteries until I got my hands on this book!
A fantastic story time with realistic characters and an extremely well thought out plot by an outstanding writer! This book is deserving of more than 5 stars, in my humble opinion!
Thanks, Michael for the opportunity to read your work! Please, keep writing! I am ready for book 3!
September 22, 2019
Michael Gallagher is a master story-teller. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed his "Octavius Guy" series, I was initially a bit reluctant to read this book. The main character is a 14 year old heroine with a supernatural power.
This is not my usual type of read! *However*... this is a fantastic book! Beautifully written, brilliantly conceived, utterly enthralling, exciting and moving. Two stories, millenia apart, combine to make one exceptional book.
September 9, 2019
I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Scarab Heart' - book 2 in 'The Involuntary Medium' series and for me it manages to surpass the first book in the writing, characters and plot. Victorian teenager and reluctant medium Lizzie Blaylock accompanies her mentor Miss Otis. on a trip down the River Nile to an archaeological dig. The mysterious goings on and the cast of brilliantly drawn characters with interesting agendas is beautifully written and reminiscent of Agatha Christie. But the clever part is the way author Michael Gallagher weaves in the sub-plot - the story of a real ancient Egyptian princess and her powerful relations. He has not skimped on his research and I learned a great deal about Egyptian life and death and Victorian methods of archaeological excavation.
The writing flows effortlessly and the climax and conclusion of this terrific story is surprising and memorable. Michael Gallagher is a gifted and skilled writer and I never would have thought that the adventures of a Victorian teenage girl, written by a middle aged Londoner could be so compelling.
Sadly, I have no more books by this author left to read but I will be waiting eagerly for his next offering. If you enjoy historical mysteries, Michael Gallagher should definitely be on your list.
June 10, 2019
The Scarab Heart is the second book in the Involuntary Medium series by Michael Gallagher. It is another wonderful tale woven into well-researched historical and cultural information of the early 1900s and ancient Egypt. Similar to the first book, it will have strong appeal to young adult readers, but in reality it is for anyone who enjoys a well-told story.
In Scarab, the young heroine, Lizzie Blaylock, has matured and evolved while still maintaining the precocious, naive and fiercely determined personality that made her such a loveable character in the first book (that being The Bridge of Dead Things). She is coming into her own as a young woman and with charming innocence hints at what may be to come in future books in the series.
Mr. Gallagher’s writing is so fluid and engaging and his use of the story within a story technique is seamless. Although set in time just over 100 years ago, I am a fan of the more modern thoughts and voice as the story remains the focus. And the art of story-telling is definitely something this author excels at!
February 10, 2019
I loved the first book in The Involuntary Medium series and this second book did not disappoint. If you like a little bit of Victorian social history, ghostly happenings and tales from Ancient Egypt you are in for a real treat. The research that must have gone into this book is phenomenal.
April 27, 2014
Fantastically written addition to the Lizzie Baylock series!! As much as I loved The Bridge of Dead Things ~ I adored The Scarab Heart! These books are marvelous, really and truly something special! Lizzie Baylock is a Victorian teen who can bring dead people back to the living temporarily. This is a talent she discovered in book 1. In this adventure, she travels with her blind and aging mentor, Miss Otis, to an archaeological dig in Egypt. I love accurately based historical fiction so this was a real treat for me. Ancient Egypt is a fascinating subject in itself, but bringing in our young medium, and giving her even another 'special gift' was dazzling. Once again Lizzie finds herself learning of young love as a side note, not the main event. Which is quite refreshing. This story is amazing ~ the fact that this young girl has to navigate the current mystery with an ancient one gives it real depth. Loved, Loved, Loved it!
I would recommend this book to any and all. I love this series of YA historical fiction, that Michael Gallagher has created, and can not wait to read the next one...whatever will Lizzie get up to now?
Paula Fetty-King, Goodreads Reviewer
March 20, 2014
And the adventures continue! Lizzie Blaylock, a very unusually talented young woman of the 1890s, finds herself accompanying an older woman, with talents of her own, to an archeological dig in Egypt. Lizzie has the ability to not only speak with the dead, but also acts as a bridge between the afterlife and the current, allowing the dead to rise from her body and speak with their own voice. This is a talent that, as you can imagine, proves to be as much of a drawback as a blessing when surrounded by bits and pieces from Ancient Egypt. All Lizzie wants to do is ignore her talent and enjoy being in Egypt. Instead, Lizzie finds herself juggling a ghost with a mission, new friends with secrets, some not so petty thievery, and a companion who wants her to share her talent with the world. Plus, she might be falling in love. And then, there's a murder.... How Lizzie gets herself in, and out, of encounters with the far past and the present, is a captivating escape from everyday life. The imagery is fabulous, the characters are likeable, and the story is believably enthralling.
It is a good tale on its own, but read the first book in the series, The Bridge of Dead Things, to give yourself a better foundation for enjoying it to the fullest.
Nightwing Whitehead, Goodreads Reviewer
January 25, 2014
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Wow...I don't know what I was expecting, but not that.
I've never read a mystery-Egyptian-paranormal from the Victorian era. Scarab Heart totally sucked me in. It was fast paced and very fun to read.
Can't wait for the next book!
Kelly, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
December 20, 2013
This is a great vacation read. It has a thought out plot and twists to keep it interesting. It was a quick read for me but kept my interest. I look forward to reading more.
bella55075, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
December 04, 2013
Mr Gallagher - What a cracking book! A story full of murder, mystery and mayhem. A plot of twists and turns; enough red herrings to make Agatha Christie green with envy. I have learnt more about Egyptian ancient history from your book, than I ever learnt at school. The machinations and plotting that went on in the Pharoh's court; the structure of that hierarchy of Egyptian lives, and just how fragile their authority could be. Also how excavations in Victorian times were carried out, regardless of the fact that Europeans were actually "tomb robbers" too!
Within the story is a great moral theme of consequences - every thought, action and deed....
This book is not just for young readers - every adult reading it can learn about themselves and the role they play in their own lives.
Let us not forget out heroine - Lizzie. She is somewhat reluctant, but knows in her heart, that good must overcome evil. She does not disappoint!
Thora Foy, Smashwords Reviewer
November 05, 2013
The Scarab Heart by Michael Gallagher is a Paranormal YA Mystery in a Victorian setting. While this is a second book, you don't need to have read the first book to understand what's going on, although if you read this book first, as I did, I suspect you soon will be acquiring its predecessor (The Bridge of Dead Things). It is obvious that the author did his homework, I'm a bit of a Victorian buff and reenactor, and the details, dialog, and characters are all appropriate to the period.
While this is a young adult novel, and my initial interest was from the perspective of being the designated "pre-reader" for my 8 grandchildren, this book has plenty of depth and complexity to keep the adults interested as well. The action flows smoothly, the plot develops nicely, and all the loose ends are tied up in the end as they should be in a well written whodunnit.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for a fair and honest review.)
Emilious Tarr, Smashwords Reviewer
September 30, 2013
I received this ebook through Early Reviewers and I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed it! Despite the main character, and narrator, Lizzie Blaylock being a young adult of 14, the book never feels as if it's talking down to younger readers. It's a good mystery and the supernatural elements such as Lizzie's medium abilities and the way they are described were creative and different than most takes I've read on such abilities. I also found the historical aspect about ancient Egypt and the heretical Pharaoh Ahkenaton and his family to be fascinating, as well as a beautiful love story that comes to parallel in small ways, Lizzie's own first experience with love. The book kept me guessing as to the thief and killer right to the end. Lots of twists, turns and suspense! I would definitely read more in this series.
September 22, 2013
As a fan of many the archeological mystery (from Agatha Christie to Elizabeth Peters), I quickly delved in to Michael Gallagher's "The Scarab Heart".
Fourteen year old Lizzie Blaylock can channel the dead, much to her chagrin but to the delight of her mentor, Ms. Otis. In "the Scarab Heart", it is 1885 and the duo trek to Egypt to visit an archeological dig. While there, they encounter theft, deception, and murder- and it's up to Lizzie to try to discover whodunnit. But it's not easy because Lizzie must also try to solve the mystery of the Scarab Heart.
Gallagher did a really good job of immediately creating the tone of the story. The narrative is fairly reminiscent of Late Victorian Britain, with a few liberties taken with phrasing- but not so much to be displaced from the setting. The text is not overly complex. It's simply written, very direct, but not dumbed down to make it easy to follow. There are great descriptive passages, especially of the Egyptian sites, but I personally would love more. The richness of the environment, for me, is as important as the action, but I know for YA novels, that's not always a preference. There is a nice balance between action and dialogue, which keeps the story moving forward and prevents the plot points from being contrived.
The characters have a great connection to each other and their dialogue flows naturally. There were a few moments where I felt that the interactions could have been stronger, but they weren't such a problem that the quality of the story was diminished. I also felt that there were one or two characters that could have been more present. Their roles seemed important to the story, but the way they were written, they did not make as much of an impact as they should have. Gallagher did a great job making characters that are easily distinguishable and with whom the reader can connect.
There is another story that unravels within "The Scarab Heart" (which I won't spoil). I liked the side plot and appreciated the depth of Egyptian history that Gallagher introduces, but....I think I would have been okay with a bit less of the side plot and a bit more depth to the main plot. The focus shifted to the side narrative a few times. It's not necessarily negative, because it did entice me to continue for the sake of getting back to Lizzie's story, but I found myself racing through to get to Lizzie's story. With respect to Lizzie's story, yes- she can channel the dead. I appreciated that it was touched upon in the appropriate places and did not overwhelm. That restraint keeps a character's special talents intriguing.
Having read a lot of mysteries, I pride myself on being quick to know the guilty party. I will say that I had a brief idea, but was still taken by surprise with the reveal. I liked that I was challenged and when I went back through the story, I discovered the clues that I didn't pick up on. It's not for the writer to point them out, it's for the reader to grasp them and I have to give kudos to Gallagher for craftily placing the clues where I missed them.
Michael Gallagher did a great job with "The Scarab Heart". It's well-written, has a nice pace, and keeps the reader interested. He seems to have a nice grasp of the period, not just with the style of writing, but also the culture of the characters and what would drive their actions. Overall, a really nice read. I look forward to reading more about Lizzie.
Sherri S., LibraryThing Early Reviewer
August 29, 2013
Theft and murder are afoot at an archaeological dig in 1885 Egypt. Lizzie Blaylock, world renowned ghost channeler, and her mentor, Miss Otis, thought they were simply there to vacation, especially since Lizzie wants nothing more to do with her powers. Her powers have other things in mind.
The story is full of rich and varied scenes and characters. Action and plot line flow smoothly. Authentic interactions between characters occur frequently helping to add to the suspense and budding romances. Time and dream/reality shifts smoothly transition in the text causing little to no confusion.
Overall, a fun read!
catya77, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
August 23, 2013
Here's an interesting YA book, set in Victorian time period, primarily in the Valley of the Kings - Egypt.
Think I'd have devoured the series in grades 6 & up. Ideally, for optimal character comprehension the series would be read in order. That said the author is good at ensuring those of us starting here with the second in the series can sort ourselves out fairly easily.
Fascinating to read this varying interpretation of Ankhenaten & Nefertiti. Truly enjoyed the attention to details & historical accuracy.
Strong minded women have always existed & some undoubtedly more overtly than others. Think these will appeal to a variety of readers.
Will be looking to read the rest of the series as time permits. (Maybe even if it doesn't )
L Kamsin, LibraryThing Early Reviewer
August 14, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The combination of Lizzie (a bridge to souls) and the Egyptian dig, and the Queen of Egypt manifestation through Lizzie's dreams, was totally cohesive and enjoyable. Throw in the murder & theft of artifacts mysteries, and my attention was taken. It's a light read, but very enjoyable. The fact that it's second in its series makes no difference whatsoever in understanding what's going on. I will go back and read the first one, and the one to come. Thanks to the publisher for supplying this to ER [LibraryThing's Early Reviewers]!
M M Plante, LibraryThing Early Reviewer