Book review of Daughters of the Lamp by Nedda Lewers

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Despite her love for logic and science, 12-year-old Sahara Rashad longs for a trip from her home in Queens, New York, to Merlin’s Crossing, a wizard-themed amusement park.

Alas, as Nedda Lewers’ magical coming-of-age adventure Daughters of the Lamp opens, Sahara realizes her dad didn’t find her “Ten Reasons the Rashad Family Should Go to Merlin’s Crossing” list as compelling as the fact that her uncle Omar’s getting married next week, so they’re leaving for a two week visit with her mother’s family in Cairo. Sahara’s frustration at Merlin-deprivation is rapidly overshadowed by nervousness about staying with people she’s never met, in a place she’s never been. All of this is amplified by long-held guilt over her mom’s death while giving birth to her.

In Cairo, when there’s a bizarre break-in at the family store, and a necklace Sahara’s mother left her goes missing, Sahara and her cousin Naima start a mission to find the necklace and reveal the true nature of Omar’s snooty fiancée, Magda. This quest transforms into one to protect their family from ancient evil, in an exciting turn of events that draws poignant connections between present and past—among Sahara, her mother and their ancestors in 10th-century Baghdad.

Daughters of the Lamp is an engaging and entertaining series debut that takes readers on a thrilling journey through magical family history and mystery, while sensitively exploring the nature of identity and thoughtfully examining the ways in which the age-old struggle between good and evil can affect and inspire us all.

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