Pink here: *waves to everybody* Ms. DeLuca is an excellent YA author. I can’t wait to read this one. Kinda reminds me of The Mummy. 🙂
Genre: YA paranormal thriller
Julie Gerber isn’t thrilled to be pulled out of school her senior year to follow her parents halfway around the world to unearth a lost pyramid. However, when the cute British guy and the mysterious financier of their project both fight for her attention, things start to get interesting.
The pharaoh known as Djedefre was cursed for the murder of his eldest brother. The work of the archaeologists brings new secrets to light, ones that prove the fallen god-king wasn’t the villain history had painted him to be. Can they prove his innocence?
As the team digs deeper into the mystery, members of the party vanish or end up dead. Someone is determined to keep the truth hidden at all costs, even 4,500 years later.
True fear unlike any other suddenly gripped Djedefre’s heart. It overshadowed even the horrendous pain and drove him to his knees. At last he realized where they’d taken him for this unfair trial. Djedefre recognized the hieroglyphics etched into the walls and the face on the many sculptures he’d commissioned. Each one of the effigies bore his likeness. This was his tomb, one of the many chambers within the confines of his great pyramid—the place where his body was supposed to rest so his soul could be reborn. Only it was obvious his well-laid plans were about to be upheaved, as well as the magnificent structure he’d spent the whole of his reign creating.
One by one, the priests of Ra seized each of his statues and smashed them against the walls, shattering them to fragments. Other officials chiseled away at his visage on the paintings upon the wall. Each strike was an assault far more painful than the gaping wound on his side, for this was an attack upon his very soul. To destroy his image was the greatest offense that could be done to any man. Every blow erased part of his spirit and robbed him of an afterlife in paradise. Only Khafre cast his eyes away from the destruction of his brother’s sacred burial grounds. The young prince recoiled each time he heard the granite shatter while their sister Hetapheres wailed her grief with her arms outstretched to the heavens, as though begging the gods to intercede. Still no divine aid came for the fallen pharaoh.
“No,” Djedefre pleaded. “No, you cannot do this. Leave me here to die, but leave my soul to the mercy of the gods!”
The priests ignored his pleas and beside him the newly awakened Manetho appeared to have lost what was left of his mind. He cackled at each new strike through bruised and swollen lips while Djedefre and his family wept at the heartless defilement. As if to prove madness had claimed him completely, the lay priest went so far as to use his tongue to lap up the blood pooling upon the limestone floor.
“Djedefre, you are disgraced. Since you are unable to prove your innocence, you are henceforth stripped of the title of Pharaoh.” Djedefre flinched at the new wave of pain that washed over him when the priest yanked the golden ankh from around his neck and discarded it amongst the piles of fragmented effigies. “You have no right to bear the sacred symbols of Egypt. You are no son of Ra. Stone by stone, your pyramid shall be torn to the ground, but your body will remain imprisoned, left here to wallow in the blood you have spilled, trapped between life and death for all eternity.”
“Bound to this earth until all wounds are set right. Forbidden to walk in Ra’s holy light,” the other priests chanted along with their leader. “Soiled blood has sealed your fate, until your heart relinquishes hate.”
“Your name and your tomb will be lost to the world,” the ancient leader intoned even as his subordinates continued to chant. “Henceforth, you will be known only as the Forgotten Pharaoh.”
The Forgotten Pharaoh – Fact vs. Fiction
While The Forgotten Pharaoh is primarily a work of my twisted imagination, there is some truth to it. Djedefre was a real pharaoh of the Forth Dynasty. Hearing his story on a documentary on the History Channel is what spurred the idea for this novel. I took some real facts and explained away some of the holes in history. Some of my explanations are paranormal in origin, but not all of them. Occasionally, I took some liberties for the sake of the story. Today I will separate fact from fiction, and tell you some of the truths of Djedefre’s story.
Djedefre – The tomb of Djedefre was first discovered in the early twentieth century by French archaeologist Emile Chassinat. Because the pyramid had been destroyed as well as all the statues, it was believed for years that Djedefre had committed some horrible crime, possibly even murdering his older brother to steal his crown. The fact that he chose to build away from Giza, the location of the Great Pyramid built by his father Khufu, also led credence to the assumption there was a rift in the family. Because the site had already been robbed and no valuables were found, it was abandoned for decades and for all those years, Djedefre was vilified without any solid facts. Later, the area became a military zone and was off limits until only a few years ago. Then Egyptologists revisited the site to prove once and for all whether Djedefre really did murder his brother. This is what my story is based on, but I did elaborate quite a bit about the condition of the tomb. The real tomb is destroyed inside and out, so the Egyptologists could only work with the rubble left on the site and other clues they found throughout Egypt. They now believe Djedefre is innocent of his brother’s murder and only moved his pyramid to Abu Rawash because the location on the hill allowed it to stand taller than even the Great Pyramid. It is thought it was once the most beautiful pyramid in all of Egypt, until the Romans invaded and repurposed the polished granite and limestone. No one is sure how long Djedefre reigned. Some hieroglyphs suggest it was only a few years while others feel it was decades, and while there is no solid evidence as to the kind of ruler he was, they have discovered hieroglyphs in the tomb of his niece, Meresankh (daughter of Kawab), that praised him. They also found a large boat in the tomb of his father Khufu that they now believe dispels the theory of a family spat.
Hetepheres – Hetepheres was the sister and wife of Djedefre and she added a whole new element to my story. Initially she was only supposed to be briefly mentioned, but her tale was so intriguing I had to work it in. First of all, she really did wear a blond wig—the only Egyptian queen we know of who did so. This alone makes her stand out. It’s also a fact that she is the longest living queen on record for ancient Egypt and there is absolutely no record of her death. No tomb has ever been found and to date no one has any idea what happened to her. She simply vanished from the timeline. I explained her disappearance in the book, but it is purely fancy. It is completely true that she married all three of her brothers in turn and had a daughter named Meresankh by Prince Kawab. They were indeed very close and when Meresankh died before her mother, Heterpheres gave up her tomb to her daughter. This was a great sacrifice for an Ancient Egyptian, who believed their tomb was passage to the afterlife. Much of the information we know about Heterpheres was discovered in the tomb of Meresankh which plays a huge role in The Forgotten Pharaoh. The tomb is also one of the most well-preserved ever to be discovered and was only recently opened back up to tourism. Inside is a lovely portrait of the fair-haired queen.
Kawab – Prince Kawab was indeed the crown prince of Egypt and first in line to succeed Khufu. He died before his father, and thus never took the crown. There is still speculation as to how he died and talk of foul play, but there is no proof that he was murdered. No one knows much about him at all, and all my speculations are purely fictional.
Khufu – Khufu is the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid. By some accounts, he was believed to be a tyrant who sold his own daughters into prostitution in order to raise the money to outdo his father’s pyramid. This theory played in well with my storyline, so I went with it.
Khafre – Again, there are more questions than answers, but Khafre did succeed Djedefre to the thrown and even married Hetepheres. Some think he may have murdered Djedefre or killed him in retribution, but many of these theories have been debunked by the recent revelations at Djedefre’s tomb.
The Sphinx – No one knows for certain who built the Sphinx, but in the documentary about Djedefre, it was suggested he may have built it to honor his father Khufu. I went with this theory, but it is only a theory.
These are just a few of the things I learned in while I was studying Djedefre. I encourage everyone to do their own fact-finding. A great place to start is the HISTORY CHANNEL’S “The Lost Pyramid” of Djedefre. The details I presented here are to the best of my knowledge, based on months of research. However, one of the exciting things about Egyptology is that new evidence comes to light all the time, so new information may be discovered. Who knows, my version may turn out to be closer to the truth than even I imagined.
~About the Author~
Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the editor of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. Her works include romantic thrillers, paranormal fiction, contemporary romance, and young adult.
Laura DeLuca is giving away Egyptian pen, papyrus bookmark, scarab, ankh necklace, pharaoh pin and ankh charms.