Author: John Oehler
Genre: Suspense, Historical Fiction
Length: 326 pages
I’ve wanted to read this book since the second I saw its cover. Mainly because John Oehler wrote it and I really enjoy his writing. I read and reviewed Aphrodesia awhile back and I swear I blushed for a month, so I knew Oehler’s writing was phenomenal. Add my obsession for all things Egyptian, and I was completely sold.
Many times this level of anticipation won’t work out well for a reader. There’s too much pressure on the book. How could it possibly live up?
Papyrus took my expectations in stride and out did itself.
Historical fiction all the way, there are still two different timelines – the ancient past (the 18th Dynasty of Egypt) and the not so ancient past (1977, during the war between Eritrea and Ethiopa). I enjoyed the banter and flirtation between these timelines and the story. It was woven together well and never missed a beat or left the reader feeling out of sorts with the rhythm of the tale.
In 1977, Oehler’s Rika Teferi is both a scholar and a warrior of Eritrea. This was an attribute so enticing for my black belt and book nerdy self that I spent two hours in a local Starbucks devouring this book instead of watching the Broncos beat the Patriots on Sunday. I loved her for her strength, her beauty, and ultimately for her intelligence.
Dive into ancient Egypt and Queen Tiye is completely riveting, especially since most my academic studies have focused on Hatshepsut and Nefertiti. It was refreshing to have Akhenaten’s mother be the focus, as I don’t think she is as common a fictional pursuit as other Eqyptian Queens. (The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Pauline Gedge’s The Twelfth Transforming – also stellar writing, but I was apparently so disappointed with the story it seems I have given that title away.) I do not own any nonfiction work devoted primarily to Tiye either, but Oehler’s version of her offered a pretty tempting reason to go find some.
As always Oehler handles the story arch with such grace and ease – I am jealous. He writes stories where things happen. Not just anything, but powerful and exciting things. Foreign countries, different times, bombs, planes, diplomats, ancient manuscripts, tombs, revolutionaries, romance…! His books are award winners with good reason and he is one of Houston’s best kept secrets. It is amazing to me that this was Oehler’s first novel.