Publisher: Atheneum Books
How we got this book: e-ARC from publisher
Release date: Out now
Blurb taken from goodreads:
“Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.”
Lou: When I first saw the buzz about this title, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful cover. It really is memorable, and it’s one you won’t forget anytime soon. It also has a tone that represents the plot of the book. I’ve been somewhat stuck in a rut with YA lately. I’m not a fan of the paranormal romances that are coming out lately with the mysterious boy, and the girl that he needs to save. Wrapped brings something entirely different to the YA genre; wrapped up in mystery, ancient Egypt, mummies and a sweet romance. Whilst it had all of these great things, and I enjoyed the book, I had issues with it. Firstly, I wasn’t sure if it was because I was tired, but when I first started reading, I had trouble getting into the story. The sentence structure felt awkward to me, and felt as if I was tripping over my mental tongue. It also had a slow beginning, and I was wondering when the action with Agnes would get moving so we could actually see what Agnes was like as a heroine.
Has: I totally agree with you about the cover and the theme of the story. It was also very refreshing to read a YA with a different setting and not the usual mysterious boy saving the girl or hidden magical abilities. I did think the opening scenes were great and I loved how it captured Agnes’ character and her skills with languages. But I think the lead up to the mystery was a tad slow and it didn’t get going until she was fully introduced with Caedmon and their discovery of a conspiracy.
Lou: I agree that the mystery was quite slow going. I kept waiting for something to happen, and it was when Agnes finally meets Caedmon that I started to enjoy the story. Their interactions with one another really brought out their personalities, and I think without their interactions, their personalities wouldn’t have been as strong. I liked that Caedmon wasn’t part of the ton or higher society. I really liked Caedmon (what an awesome name) and I must admit, I did like him more as a character than Agnes. I felt he was more fleshed out, and was a much more interesting character in terms of his knowledge. I’m a big fan of ancient Egypt stories — whether it be films, documentaries or books set around Egypt. And Wrapped certainly managed to infuse the setting and theme of Egypt whilst still being in London, England.
Has: I thought they were perfect together! Their chemistry was great and I have to say that Agnes’ intelligence and curiosity really shines and it was a perfect foil to Caedmon’s dedication to his studies in Egyptology. I especially liked how they rebelled against their social stations, as they were confined by expectations and class. It really fits into the title again and the main theme of the book — being wrapped into events, or confined by social class or expectations. The Egyptology theme was also the main reason why I picked up the book and I agree, even though the setting was in Regency England, the author really highlighted this aspect well, and I loved that there were hints of curses and magic, but that it was up to the reader’s imagination if this was true or not.
Lou: I like Agnes, and she was definitely smart, but I was annoyed that she didn’t end up telling her Father about what was happening when she knew that he was able to help her — especially when her life was at danger. I felt the author manipulation of the story where the most sensible thing was avoided as it enabled Agnes and Caedmon to solve the mystery themselves. I was wondering which route the magic curses would go down, and I think Bradley set that up great by not going either way of the spectrum. The actual mystery and villain of the story, I wasn’t that surprised by who they turned out to be. It was almost a simplistic conclusion, and I think the actual mystery of the amulet and the clues Agnes and Caedmon solved was the strongest part of the story.
Has: I definitely agree with you about Agnes not telling her father, but I thought that would have ended the story rather abruptly and there wouldn’t have been the discovery at the end which I think really worked. I also agree about the identity of the villain although I do think he was effective and I liked their interactions with Agnes which created an interesting dynamic. Another aspect that I really like was the portrayal of Agnes’ family and the insights we had — most especially with her brother Rupert which I found really interesting. And again the themes of being constricted on expectations he has to abide by — although we get to see he’s willing to break them because he’s unhappy too with the plight of his own future. Just like Agnes’ own fears about settling down with a suitable husband but yearning for more. It really made the characters standout here, and it was definitely realistic.
Lou: Anges family dynamics worked very well, and Rupert was…an interesting character :D. An annoying dandy of a brother, but a person who is very unhappy. I hope this is a start to a series, because I can see so much more potential in Agnes family — both in Rupert and her older brother David. I wonder also about her best friend, Julie, and if she is a potential love interest for Rupert, or perhaps for someone else. Talking about love interests, I do think Agnes and Caedamon were so sweet. There were both so hesitant, and sometimes snappy at one another, but they were always quick to forgive one another, and their hesitant romance was adorable.
Has: I hope there is more to come from these characters, and I hope there is some resolution for Rupert – I really felt for him in the end and that was surprising especially how his character was portrayed in the beginning. The ending feels like there is a lot of potential to explore especially with Agnes and Caedmon. I think their romance was definitely a delight and it was a nice change from the emo/forced angst that some recent YA books have at the moment. I think that helped not to overpower the story too.
Lou: I do so hope there is more to come from these characters. I think Wrapped was a great introduction to a YA series that is quite fresh in tone and theme. Despite the issues I have with Wrapped such as the slow beginning and slow mystery, I would recommend this for anyone who is looking for some fresh blood so to speak in the YA genre. I would love to give it a B, but because of the struggle I had at the beginning, I give Wrapped a C+
Has: I think Wrapped is a refreshing and delightful story with an engaging and fun heroine. Despite a very slow middling, it has well developed characters and a strong mystery that held some surprises which drew me into the story. I also hope there is more to come. I also give Wrapped a C+