This review is going to be a first for my blog; a DNF review. I almost always finish the books I start but life is just too short to waste time reading bad books and that’s what this is, a bad book. I had such high hopes for Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge. It’s my favorite genre, Egyptian historical fiction, and about one of the only female pharaohs to ever exist, Hatshepsut. However, I got half way through this book and just couldn’t make myself finish it. I did read a few reviews and the last chapter so that I could have an understanding of how the characters developed and how the story ended. I’ll get into my reasons for why I didn’t enjoy this book after the synopsis. This review will have slight spoilers but I mean, the book is based on real history so it’s technically already “spoiled”.
She ruled Egypt not as Queen but as Pharaoh, thirty five centuries ago. Yet her name–Hatshepsut–does not appear in dynastic scrolls, nor is her reign celebrated on monuments. This is the story of the young woman who assumed the throne of Egypt, mastered the arts of war and government, lived her life by her own design, and ruled an empire–the only woman Pharaoh in history.
Child of the Morning was Pauline Gedge’s debut novel in 1977. Technically, this book is well written. It contains flawless grammar and the idea behind the story is interesting. This is the first book that I’ve come across that attempts to tell the story of Hatshepsut. Unfortunately, to bring a historical time period to life you need well written characters with depth and that’s where this book falls short.
I honestly did not care about any of the characters at any point. They range from absolutely boring (Senmut) to completely unlikable (Hatshepsut). None of the characters grow or change. Hatshepsut is the same from the time she’s a child until she dies as a middle aged woman. She’s vain, selfish and completely convinced that she’s a god/goddess; she alternates between referring to herself as male and female. There is nothing likable, relatable or redeemable about her. She also behaves in contradictory ways.
Hatshepsut can’t stand her older brother, Thothmes. Her loathing for him is mentioned multiple times and she is ecstatic when her father chooses her to be his successor. Once her father dies and she becomes pharaoh, Thothmes tells her that the Egyptian people will never accept a female pharaoh and that she needs to marry him. She accepts his proposal immediately, proceeds to marry him the next day and lose her virginity. She has no human emotion about having to marry the brother she despises or losing her virginity to him. It’s all very “meh, it is what it is” feeling. That’s the point in the book that I allowed myself to stop reading because until then I had been totally bored with the story but once that happened, I was just over it completely.
I am just so disappointed with this book. It could have been an amazing story but it ended up being boring and annoying. From the reviews I’ve read, Pauline Gedge’s later book are really good. I did purchase The Twelfth Transforming by her and hopefully I will enjoy it more. Have you read any of Pauline Gedge’s books? Is there any other Egyptian fiction books I should check out? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!