My second book for the challenge was Formed of Clay by Thea Atkinson. This short story is about Sentu and his quest to learn the magical letters of Pharaoh Mene's court. Only it's not as easy he thinks. Danger lurks, bedding with betrayal and lies. As I grew closer to the end, I got the feeling this ending wasn't going to be pretty. I worried for Sentu. He was so innocent at the beginning and as the story progressed, he lost his innocence more and more. How would his soul weigh against Ma'at's feather if he died? I really wanted him to find redemption as the story turned darker and darker. Of course, I can't tell you if he did or not. You'll have to read for yourself.
The story is set in ancient Egypt and I really enjoyed the history of ancient Egypt as it was woven into the tale. I could believe along with Sentu of the magic the high priest processed. The gods were real. The setting and clothing describe was accurate as well. It wasn't over bearing in description, but enough that you could vision the chief wife and the pharaoh as well as how an ancient Egyptian city would look.
As for the cast of characters, it was pretty small. But it's a short story too, so not much time to spend with other characters. I liked the friendship between Ahmen and Sentu. The high priest Hozat was a devious character. He'd do some good things and I'd think he wasn't that bad. Then he'd do a 180 and I'd think, Bastard! Other characters were surprising as well and they kept me on my toes with surprises and twists.
Overall, I'd give Formed of Clay five stars. It was a dark page turner that always hinted at redemption, but in a way that until you reached the end you'd have no idea of the outcome. I do wish there were more, but at the same time, the story feels like just the right length.