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24 Bones by Michael F. Stewart

01/09/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen

Buy 24 Bones in the USA - or Buy 24 Bones in the UK

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pub: Drollerie Press. 234 pages ebook. Price: $ 5.91 (US). ASIN: B002B9MGLY.

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Michael Stewart successfully combines many elements in '24 Bones'. The general plot is the on-going battle between two rival cults steeped in Egyptian mythology. Every five hundred years, the balance between the fullness (good) and the void (evil) teeters and must be restored. This particular battle plays out in modern day Cairo and is fought on either side by willing and unwilling participants.

Taggart was born in Cairo and initiated into the side of good at age eight. He rejects his 'destiny' and all religion and immigrates to America where he struggles to reconcile his differences by proving his own religious theories.

Sam was also born in Cairo and was pledged by her mother to the side of evil. She was raised in the cult by 'Pharaoh', her childhood one brutal test after another as she is forced to embrace the void.

The author introduces many other characters into the mix: Elen, Sam's mother; Askari, companion and high priest, a tragic figure who rests all his hopes on the wrong people; and my personal favourite, Faris, a heartbreaking character who constantly must battle his own nature.

There was a point half-way through the book where I felt like the plot was wrapping up and the story was coming to an end and that's when the big plot twists started to happen. It's hard to talk about them in a review because it's a major change to the characters, one that I didn't see coming. That element of surprise and the depth of the supporting characters is what elevated this book to a whole new level.

'24 Bones' is a winning debut. It's well-written and well-plotted, studded with drama, action, history and mythology. There's even a little romance. The conclusion is thrilling with the final outcome of the battle between good and evil held over until the very end...leaving you guessing until that very last page.

Finally, I'd like to mention the cover art, it is quite striking, which is not unusual or unexpected from Drollerie Press. In addition to gorgeous typesetting and unique flourishes, these are the details that make these e-books a pleasure to read.

Kelly Jensen

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This book has 548 votes in the sci-fi charts

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