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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Kiya - Hope of the Pharaoh by @KatieTeller1 #newadult #historical

Title: KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh
Series: KIYA Trilogy #1
Author: Katie Hamstead
Genre: Historical, Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: April 30, 2013

Links: Goodreads + Amazon

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

My Review:

Hope of the Pharaoh dives into the story of Kiya, Nefertiti, and Akhenaten, offering a glimpse at an Egyptian queen history knows very little about.

When eighteen year old Naomi (given the Egyptian name of Kiya) realizes the Pharaoh's people plan to take her young sister to the palace to wed Akhenaten, she offers herself up in Rena's stead. As a Hebrew, Kiya realizes the shame and humiliation awaiting her at the Palace and does not want to see her sister endure that. The Pharaoh's men reluctantly agree to take her instead of Rena, and Kiya's story begins.

Hope of the Pharaoh sees Kiya's struggle as she attempts to navigate the often turbulent waters of her new life. Along the way, we're introduced to a plethora of familiar characters, not always written exactly as we might have imagined them. And that's one of the great things about this book... Katie isn't afraid to take a world that has long fascinated us and turn it upside down in order to tell the story of the Queen we know so little about.

Kiya is a strong, confident young woman who meets the challenges of her new life with grace, humility, and stubborn streak that often makes her so easy to relate to. Nefertiti is portrayed as a jealous, hateful wench who isn't particularly thrilled about welcoming a Hebrew into the Palace, especially not one who will give Akhenaten an heir to take the throne. Akhenaten is a kind Pharaoh, if not a little strange. And Horemheb is a patient teacher who pushes Kiya to stand strong despite the odds stacked against her.

If you know much about Ancient Egypt, you'll notice the details aren't always on par with the history we believe to be true. In reality, Kiya was likely a Nubian or Mitanni princess and not the Hebrew girl Katie portrays. But that's another of the great things about Kiya... we simply don't know who she was or where she came from. Katie humanizes a woman shrouded in mystery for centuries, and makes her as memorable as Nefertiti or Akhenaten.

At times, I felt as if Kiya was made into a victim when, in reality, Nefertiti's hate wasn't necessarily unprovoked. During Kiya's first meeting with Nefertiti, for instance, she antagonizes the Queen by flat out stating she thinks Nefertiti will treat her poorly. And then she makes a dig about how Nefertiti can't touch her because she's going to give Akhenaten an heir. When Nefertiti states that she's already given him several heirs, Kiya makes the situation worse by pointing out that Nefertiti's daughters will never be given the throne on virtue of being women. That seemed petty to me. While Nefertiti takes things too far, I can almost see why she dislikes Kiya so thoroughly, and at times, I struggled to empathize with Kiya as a result. 

But all told, I really enjoyed the story (and Kiya herself), and am looking forward to finishing the series. 4.5/5 stars.

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

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