Book Review: Rick Riordan’s The Serpent’s Shadow

Posted January 22, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Middle-Grade readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Rick Riordan’s The Serpent’s Shadow

The Serpent's Shadow


Rick Riordan

fantasy in Hardcover edition that was published by Disney-Hyperion on May 1, 2012 and has 406 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian, The Red Pyramid, The Lost Hero, Cold Springs, The Throne of Fire, The Son of Neptune, The Mark of Athena, House of Hades, The Blood of Olympus, The Hidden Oracle, The Sword of Summer, The Hammer of Thor, The Ship of the Dead

Third in the Kane Chronicles urban fantasy series for young adults and revolving around a troupe of young magicians using Egyptian magic and hoping to save the world from Chaos.

My Take

What a load of rubbish! Oh, the central storyline is good; it’s Riordan’s execution that had me gagging my way through. Was he in a hurry or something? Had a sudden fit of dumb?

The kids show up at a Tut exhibit party in Texas and tell Grissom that Apophis is about to attack and destroy the one remaining scroll and he both believes and disbelieves Carter and Sadie’s team. Supposedly the Nomes throughout the world know what’s going on, and yet, Grissom is amazingly ignorant. They’re about to be attacked and Grissom does nothing to protect anyone before the attack. Where was Riordan’s editor?

I did enjoy the description of the kids ransacking the gift shop at the museum. It was pretty funny and a great way to re-introduce them all to us.

“JD’s wife is in danger.” Was that supposed to be sarcasm?

They’ve spent all this time yammering away, not bothering to collect the precious scroll, and they do this throughout the story. Yack, yack, yack, go off on a tangent. Ooh, yeah, let’s go have fun at the school dance. It’s enough to drive ya mad. I’m guessing it was supposed to create tension. And it did. I kept hoping to reach a bucket before I spewed everywhere else. I swear, I do want to gag Sadie. She has no clue as to when to SHUT UP. Just wait til you get to the scene where they only have seconds to capture Bes’ shadow. All I can say is, get a gag ready for the dimwit. Then there’s her whole reaction to Anubis and Walt. Yeah, I get that it’s a shocker, but gimme a break. It’s just one stupid thing after another.

Carter doesn’t get let off either. But then I do understand his getting careless as far as Bloodstained goes. I guess what really irritates me is that while the way the characters are being stupid can be reasonable for their circumstances, it’s how Riordan goes about having them be so bloody stupid that is so incredibly irritating. Including all that stupid fighting at the end. So carefully preserving the bad guys so they could reach a crisis point.

I do enjoy the recording that Sadie and Carter do with all the asides of sibling pinching, laughing, and verbal assaults.

I don’t get how supposedly intelligent magicians can possibly believe anything that comes out of Sarah Jacobi’s mouth. I assume they all know her and her team’s history. So, why would they believe her?

Okay, I did like the BAG references. Very funny. As was Riordan’s description of Thoth doing battle on his pyramid in Tennessee: flat, bloated, intestinal problems. Oh, yeah, I’m scared. Scared I’ll pee my pants laughing.

The Story

Dallas is a disaster with death and loss. Which itself turns into a PR nightmare. But it does lead Carter to begin the series of questions which will lead to a possible way to win. An analysis of the soul, Egyptian-style. Shadow, sheut, is the fifth part of the soul.

Most of the magical world has turned against the Kanes. Amos’ allies are deserting him.

And there is only one slim chance the Kanes have of averting the end o fthe world. Now, if Sadie can just shut up for a minute…

The Characters

Sadie Kane can take Isis into her body and together they can wield the goddess’ power. Carter Kane does the same with Horus. Together the kids live with other young magicians in Brooklyn House. Their dad, Dr. Julius Kane, became the host for Osiris last year; Disturber is just about the last judgement god available. Ammit the Devourer eats the souls of the dead. Sadie knows him as Poochiekins.

The Brooklyn House Nome, the Twenty-first Nome
Walt Stone is one of the boys with whom Sadie is in love. Only, he’s dying; King Tut was his “great-times-a-billion granduncle”. Ten-year-old Felix has a thing for penguins. Wait’ll you read what his assessment is of his power path at the end of the story. Too funny. Khufu is their baboon friend. Alyssa is an earth magician. Freak is a frozen-turkey-eating griffin who pulls their Egyptian boat around. Bast is a cat goddess and the housemother. Jaz is their healer. Julian. Paul. Cleo is the librarian. The ankle-biters include the crayon-wielding Shelby.

Brooklyn Academy for the Gifted (BAG)
Mrs. Laird is the headmistress, the BAG lady. Lacy is a fellow student and one of Sadie’s friends. Drew is a fellow student and she and her clique are so NOT friends with Sadie. Although, Riordan could have done so much more with this. The snark between them was rather lame.

Captain Bloodstained Blade commands the Egyptian Queen, a steamboat, a boat left to the Kanes by their father.

The First Nome in Egypt
Uncle Amos is the Chief Lector who rules for the pharaoh and runs the House of Life. Zia Rashid is the girl Carter rescued from her millennia-long entombment. And, of course, fell in love with.

The Egyptian gods and goddesses
Ra is the god of the sun and Apophis’ archenemy. Isis is Horus‘ mother and wants to gain the throne for him. Anubis is a god of the dead and he and Sadie are in love. A love that is not to be as Shu, Anubis’ great-grandfather and the god of air does his best to keep them apart—with the consent of other gods who shouldn’t be colluding in this! Naturally, they spend a lot of time yammering without getting down to what they need to say to each other. Geb is an earth god married to Nut the sky goddess; they’re Anubis’ parents. Bes is a dwarf god who lost his soul. Set is a god of Chaos and once possessed Uncle Amos. Thoth is another death god. Hapi is the god of the Nile. And very, very hapi, er, happy. Neith is the goddess of the hunt. And easily distracted by Jelly Babies.

Sunny Acres Godly Retirement Community
Tawaret is in charge of Sunny Acres. She’s also a hippo goddess of childbirth and in love with Bes. Heket is a frog goddess; Mekhit a senile cat goddess.

JD Grissom and his wife Anne are with the Fifty-first Nome in Dallas, Texas.

A Russian Nome
Sarah Jacobi was exiled for causing the death of 250,000 people. Kwai was exiled for murdering a fellow magician. Petrovich once worked as an assassin. Leonid escapes St. Petersburg and comes to warn Sadie.

Prince Khaemwaset, a.k.a., Setne, is a very bad boy and the son of Ramses II. Definitely a son who hates living in his father’s shadow. He’s a world-class thief and manipulator.

Apophis is a snake and one of the gods of chaos. Face of Horror is Set’s lieutenant and the secret mouthpiece of Apophis.

The Duat is a “magical realm that coexists with our” world. The world and magic is all about balance: Ma’at (order and justice) versus Chaos. House of Life is the organization for magicians who use Egyptian magic. Shabit are Egyptian golems.

The Cover and Title

The cover is all oranges and blues of Carter carrying a flail of an Egyptian pharaoh with Zia standing on the rocks surrounding the Lake of Chaos with the obelisk that pins Apophis’ fiery shadow standing back and center.

The title is this story’s mission, pin The Serpent’s Shadow to destroy Apophis.