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Nora Delzelle
The Secrets of the Kings
Who are we, really, underneath the masks we choose to wear? Alex Kincaid is twenty-four years old and leads a quiet life in a small college town. She works at Galen Industries and spends most of her free time with her co-workers. Her friends, like Emma Bastian, want to meddle in Alex’s love life. That’s what friends do, right? Yet Alex is too preoccupied with the odd letter she’s received. It grants her a large inheritance from a total stranger. Among the effects is a magical mask that will change Alex’s life forever. After an attempt on her life, Alex is horrified to see the mask take the shape of her face. It’s endowed with the powers of the ancient sky deity Horus, the protector of order. Alex is now in danger from Set, the god of storms and chaos. Set has vowed to take revenge against Horus for killing his lover. Since the mask fuses the personalities of its previous owners, Alex’s own identity is in danger of being lost forever. As Alex and her friends attempt to solve the mystery, the stakes keep rising. Set is hot on Alex’s trail, and he won’t stop. Alex discovers feelings for her co-worker Gabriel Reyes. Alex must carefully thread the needle of destiny and fulfillment. At its heart, The Secrets of the Kings is a story about who we really are. Author Nora Delzelle weaves a tale of ancient love and modern society into compelling fantasy. As the mystery is revealed, one thing soon becomes clear: no mask can hide the truth.
In Delzelle’s solid debut supernatural thriller, a modern-day chemist inherits an ancient Egyptian relic that attracts a millennia-long vendetta amongst deities. Alex Kincaid is baffled by a letter she receives from a stranger named Amos Fowler, who bequeathed her a box of ancient Egyptian artifacts. Drawn to a golden funerary mask that she learns depicts Horus, the Egyptian god of order, Alex puts it on–only to find the mask turns invisible and imbues her with fighting skills and near invulnerability. Before she knows it, Alex is using those skills to fight the dark forces that have started hunting her.

Delzelle provides a squad of well-constructed characters who both help and hinder Alex as she navigates her mysterious and magical predicament. Chase, her blind date, mugs her, then hits her with a car, but claims he is being controlled by someone else–though his attack is particularly traumatizing given the devastating car accident Alex endured three years before, causing her to undergo a cornea implant. In her dreams, Alex meets the soul of the deceased Fowler, who tells her she is now the new mask bearer for Horus and must dedicate herself to the defense of order. But she is warned against the servants of Set, the god of chaos, who has been at war with Horus for over four thousand years: “from the very start, order and chaos were locked in a struggle for supremacy.” Helping Alex are her carousing best friend Emily, who seems to disappear when Alex needs her most, protective co-worker Lynn, and handsome co-worker Gabriel.

While the setup is familiar, this polished story’s mythology is teased out with steady pacing, crisp prose, and a variety of twists that will please readers of urban fantasy–especially those drawn to strong female protagonists–right up until the satisfying ending.

Takeaway: This polished supernatural thriller finds a young chemist caught up in a battle between the ancient Egyptian pantheon.

Great for fans of: Ilona Andrews’s Magic Bites, R.M. Schultz’s Eve of the Pharaoh.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A