Review: “The Egypt Game” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

In The Egypt Game, the civilization of Ancient Egypt is a source of fascination for admiring best friends April Hall and Melanie Ross.  Together with their imaginations and Melanie’s younger brother Marshall, the “Egypt game” is initiated one day by accident in the deserted yard behind an antique shop.  As the game becomes more inventive and the number of players increase, the magic and wonder of this childish game inspires the “Egyptians” to artistically demonstrate its influence in their lives and their friendships.

Set in a modern university town in California, the story Zilpha Keatley Snyder develops in this novel also focuses on the significance of lasting friendships and strong family bonds.  The most unusual main character is April, who is more or less the leader and propagator of the Egypt game, and partly its inventor.  April’s headstrong, arrogant nature covers her past rejection by her mother through an involuntary “exile” to her grandmother’s home.  Despite her feelings of abandonment and being a stranger in a new neighborhood, April learns to re-connect with her surroundings and takes comfort in the Egypt game, where she can unleash her creativity and her vast knowledge of past civilizations.  Her new relationships and the Egypt game combine to give the novel not only humor, adventure, and unique characters but also an interesting look at the culture and history of an ancient civilization.  The diversity of the characters in the story and how their personal differences are ignored for the sake of a common interest are very insightful.

However, the darkest part of The Egypt Game is the underlying mystery of a sinister murder perpetrated in the main characters’ neighborhood.  This event eventually affects the main characters directly and culminates the story.  With Snyder’s realistic storyline and unique writing style, The Egypt Game innovatively delivers the grandeur of Ancient Egypt amid the many problems and issues of modern society.

Original review: Part 2: Three choice novels by Zilpha Keatley Snyder,


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