Apprentice Of The Dead is set in an alternative (but modern) version of London where the Egyptian Empire never fell and Ani is an unusual female trainee priestess of Anubis. If you enjoy my academy books AND my Forgotten Gods books, then this series is going to be right up your alley (plus a derpy pet jackal...)
Copyright 2021, Laura Greenwood.
Nikare and I find our way to the far body, a woman with very pale skin and a bloodied nose.
Maybe volunteer bodies is just a fancy way of saying criminals. But I doubt it. The official line of the Egyptian Empire is that a certain level of criminal forfeits the right to life after death and it's an insult to the gods to send them to the Weighing of the Heart knowing they would fail.
More likely, these bodies belonged to those who were too poor to be able to afford even a partial mummification, but who didn't like the idea of going without completely.
"Stand back, I've got this," Nikare instructs me.
I cross my arms and glare at him. "You're not the only one who's capable, you know."
Shock flits across his face. "I've been watching people do this since I was a child."
"And I've done my research and paid attention to what the priests have been doing while we've been here," I counter. "I'm just as capable. Besides, Hori said that we were paired up based on our records. That means we're either equally as good as one another, or equally bad. It's your choice which you assume I am, but that means you're on the same level."
He snaps his jaw shut, presumably not having any argument against what I've just said.
"Fine. We can do it together. What do we do first?"
"I thought you'd been watching these things since you were a child?" I throw at him.
"I have. But I want to make sure you know."
I sigh. "First, we have to check the chart and see what we're dealing with," I point out. "There's little point starting to prepare her until we know what we're dealing with."
He purses his lips, no doubt knowing I'm right, even if he doesn't want to accept it.
I ignore him and make my way to the end of the bench, pulling up the woman's chart and scanning the information there. Her name is blanked out, which is surprising when it's normally such an important part of preparing the dead. But I suppose we technically didn't need it when we were the ones preparing the body itself and not the coffin or Book of the Dead. Those things would fall to one of the older apprentices who no longer dealt with the bodies. It was one of the specialisms that was available in the temple, but not one I thought I was interested in. There's something calming about being around the dead.
"She's being prepped for modern mummification," I say.
Nikare wrinkles his nose. "I don't know why anyone chooses that."
"It's cheaper," I point out. "Not all of us have the choice of going the traditional route." Especially as it's grown more and more costly over the years. Traditional mummification is especially tough in places like this where it's always damp, which means it has to be carried out by specialist priests. Not by apprentices who have yet to actually deal with a full body.
"I still don't see the point."
I roll my eyes. "Then you're being an idiot." The words are out before I can stop them, but something about Nikare winds me up the right way."
"If you say so, Ankhesenamun."
"Just call me Ani like everyone else," I mutter.
"And it doesn't matter what your personal feelings on modern mummification are. That's what this person wanted, so that's what we're going to prepare her for." It actually makes our job easier. Neither of us has the knowledge to actually perform the mummification itself, which means we need to wait for someone who does. But the organs stay inside the body during the modern method, which means we don't have to cut the woman open. I'm glad about that. Not because I'm squeamish, but because I don't want to mess it up.
Urban Fantasy in an Alternate Timeline
An urban fantasy series set in an alternative world where the Egyptian empire still rules. It follows a new priestess of Anubis, Ani, as she navigates temple politics and uncovers something she can't ignore.
Heat Level: Low - Relationship Type: m/f - Build: Slow - Point of View Character: Single first person POV, same throughout books - Cliffhangers: Yes - Tense: Present