Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Drama. Lots of it. I think I’ve struck gold with this one because that’s exactly the kind of thing I like: lurid melodrama, a veritable “Oh no she didn’t!”
But first, the plot… Nefertiti becomes Chief Wife of Pharaoh Amunhotep. The Pharaoh is, for lack of a better word, psychotic. He wants to overthrow all the scared Egyptian gods and force his subjects to worship a sun disc.
The narrator is Nefertiti’s little sister, Mutnodjmet (yes, I had to check the spelling). Mutny is the Other Boleyn Girl and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman rolled into one petite cat-eyed package. In other words, she has a pretty good head on her shoulder. She’s going to need it amongst all the backstabbing, bed hopping, cat fighting, spear tossing, slave flogging, pomegranate wine drinking, pyramid building, belly dancing, tent boinking, baby killing Egyptian court drama. There is also a plague that kills half of Egypt, but I couldn’t come up with a way to tack on an –ing at the end of plague. Maybe I’m not using my brain. I just spent the better part of my work day listening to my boss gangsta rap. I think I finally understand what Kurtz meant at the end of Heart of Darkness: “The horror! The horror!”
Anyways, Nefertiti was a juicy historical riff. And unintentionally hilarious! Did I mention the Pharoah is ExtremeExtremeExtreme! Every time the Pharaoh ‘formerly known as Amunhotep’ opens his mouth I’m clutching my sides to keep my belly from splitting from the funny leaping off the page. He’s running around like a wild mongoose, fathering babies left and right, impaling eunuchs with spears, shooting arrows at innocent women, riding his chariot at break neck speed into a wall, burning down houses. Who is this guy? Someone needs to put this fool on a leash. And I’m done.
‘A’ for the drama and unintentional comedy. Okay, I suppose shooting arrows at random people isn’t funny because a lot of Egyptians were hurt in the making of this book, but damn it if I didn’t chuckle to my heart’s content. I guess I’m reading without a soul, but how can anyone have a soul left when their boss is a gangsta?
The ‘minus’ is for the many times the characters “hissed” at each other. As in “You spat in my kohl, you desert whore!” she hissed. Or “You drugged my pomegranate wine with your lotus funk!” I hissed. Uh, quotes not actually in the book. Try hissing aloud and tell me it doesn’t make you want to flick your fork tongue and slither to the tune of a flute.