Cleopatra Ascending by Maureen Lipinski is an entertaining look at the life of a young girl who is Cleopatra reincarnated. Rhea Spencer comes from a family of unusual women. Witches, a shaman, a muse, psychics…all the Spencer women have some sort of supernatural ability. Rhea’s claim to the ether is the fact that, on her 16th birthday, she starts to acquire the powers of Cleopatra as she absorbs the dead queen’s magic. Problem is, there’s a team of bad guys digging up Cleopatra’s tomb, looking specifically for her own personal Book of the Dead, which they intend to use to….get ready for it….take over the world!
Rhea finds herself protected by the good guys, who have pledged, father to son/mother to daughter, for centuries to take care of the Queen when she returns to this world. However, being a 16 year old girl who has a hot boyfriend (albeit one from the Dark Side), Rhea insists on trying to live as normal a life as possible, which includes having dinner with her boyfriend’s parents. The dinner turns out worse than she could have possibly imagined, and she soon finds herself on her way to Egypt, where she will begin her training to understand Cleopatra’s power and control the Book of the Dead. All of this ends in what I had anticipated being an exciting climax, with a big battle between the forces of good and evil.
This is where I was mistaken. Lipinski does an excellent job of developing the story, up until the time Rhea gets to Egypt, where it all just kind of falls apart. There is shocking betrayal, to be sure, but the final battle felt rushed, predictable, and pretty lame. I was also put off by the number of times Rhea “shrieks” or “shouts.” I can overlook that descriptive overuse, but I really wanted a more exciting ending. Even so, the author and her subjects intrigued me enough to go find her first novel and read more about the Spencer family. One redeeming factor is the awesome cover art, which is rich and lovely, and will certainly attract readers.