Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

Theodosia and the SoCOverall, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos was fine. It has a spunky, super smart, and mystically aware 11 year old heroine and the vocabulary isn’t dumbed down, which is something I always appreciate. Theodosia lives in Edwardian London and spends much of her time in the museum her parents run. She has a younger brother and a cat named Isis, which makes her much like my own daughter and made me want to really like this book.

However, I found both the plot and the tone to be uneven. The “OMG the world is going to END!” plotline felt like a bit much—I think I could have forgiven more if there was a little less on the line. I also know this particular approach gets on my daughter’s nerves—kids having to save the world in every single book is something she has specifically mentioned as annoying.

Other reviewers have noted that the tone lurches from an attempt at an Edwardian British tone to a very modern tone. I noticed that, but what really bothered me was that it switched from past to present tense on a regular basis. It was almost written like Theodosia’s journal, in which case that tone could have been accommodated, but it didn’t go the whole way. I found this very jarring. I can’t help but think it needed a better editor, but I’m biased that way! As far as I can tell, this was R.L. LaFevers’ first book—her later books might improve, as I think this one certainly has potential but falls short.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


There’s definitely some graphic stuff in here—basically the nasty Germans are attempting to steal artifacts so they can take over the world, which raises the stakes to truly life and death. And the final showdown felt a bit…grisly, I guess. It’s not that a lot of detail was given, but it was enough to evoke some horrifying images in my mind. And yet there were shockingly few repercussions from it. If you’re going to get that intense, there should be consequences in the plot.


The ancient religions and curses are most definitely real, even if most people aren’t aware of them and no longer believe in them.


There’s a strong undertone of anti-Imperialism. If the archeologists (including Theodosia’s parents) would just leave well enough alone and stop removing artifacts from their rightful resting places, none of this would be happening. The way to reverse the curse is to return the artifact.


Theodosia’s parents border on neglectful. It’s sort of chalked up to typical absent minded and overly focused academics, but good grief! She also goes behind their backs and lies to them—it’s necessary to save the world and she does feel guilty about it…but still. It definitely triggered my secret fatigue. At least she and her brother start to bond by the end of the book.


Probably good for kids aged 9 to 12 who like an adventurous and dramatic plot—if your kids like Indiana Jones, this book might appeal. Readers need to be able to handle the idea of curses that might end the world and that the characters seem to be in very real, life-threatening danger. If your child is sensitive or gets really involved in the stories, this one might be a bit intense, especially for independent reading. Character development is minimal, but Theodosia is fun to hang out with. Although there’s a female protagonist, I think this book would appeal equally to boys and girls.

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers
Published 2007 by Sandpiper
First in a series
Read on Kindle


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