Mara: Daughter of the Nile

by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
288 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jeanne

A fast-paced story of Ancient Egypt, but questionable morals.


The story begins with Mara, an intelligent and passionate slave girl dying for her freedom. In the world of ancient Egypt, she plays a double spy for two arch enemies as Thutmose III contends with his sister, Hatshepsut, for the throne.


Mara does a good bit of lying and cheating in order to trick both her masters, as well as flirting with a guard to let her out of a gate; she is, for most of the book, willing to do anything that benefits herself. However, she does pay the price for it in the end. Despite the fact that spying and treachery are key in the novel, loyalty and love are probably the clearest values.

Spiritual Content

All the characters serve the gods and goddesses of Egypt. 'Khefts', evil spirits, are also mentioned widely throughout the book.


One of the characters is beaten severely at the end of the book, and two guards are killed at another point. Mara is threatened with beatings as a slave in the first chapter or so. Sheftu, her second "master," believes that his fate is to be eaten by crocodiles. One character is offered the choice between suicide and execution, and chooses suicide.

Drug and Alcohol Content


Sexual Content

A few embraces and kisses; at one point, Mara flirts with a man. There is romance, but it is clean.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The characters occasionally swear by the gods and goddesses, using exclamations such as "By Amon!"


The plot of "Mara" is very good and interesting, as one might expect from a novel dealing with a double spy; however, the story has almost no historical foundations. Mara's character was well-developed, and the romance was particularly enjoyable. Coming through the turmoil of the rest of book, the ending was well-written and felt light. There are some iffy parts in regards to morality, however, so the book is best read by more mature readers.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 3
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

Average rating: 4 stars
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