Back cover description: Ancient artifacts provoke fresh fear when a night at the museum goes from fun to freaky! Jane is ready for the time of her life. Tonight she and forty-nine other girls will be spending an actual night in a museum! At first, she's making lots of new friends and having a ton of fun, but the stakes get raised when one girl, Daria, dares her to take a tour of the museum after lights out. The girls have heard that one of the mummies in the Ancient Egyptian exhibit comes to life when the museum closes. Jane accepts the dare. After all, there's no way a mummy can come to life. Or is there? And are there, perhaps, other secrets that will be revealed in a museum at night? This surprising story is rated a Level 4 on the Creep-o-Meter.
I am a sucker for all things Ancient Egyptian, from sensible scholarly non-fiction to the silliest Mummy movies, so there was little chance I wouldn't enjoy this.
The story begins from Jane's point of view. She's at a sleepover at a museum (I envy city people their access to museums, and I REALLY envy city kids if they actually get to do things like this). She's nervous, and thinking she's got nothing in common with the other girls, which immediately makes me think she's secretly the mummy. SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT.
Yeah, so, I was wrong. But she does know that the museum is supposedly haunted, even though she doesn't know her address, or what a peanut butter cup is; the other girls charitably chalk this up to her having been homeschooled. They are way less suspicious than I am. She's also recently moved to the area, so she doesn't know anyone yet.
The other girls include Lucy, who attends EVERY museum event and is sometimes a point-of-view character; Daria, who is aloof and argumentative and dares Jane and Lucy to hunt for the walking mummy; and Megan, who is scared of everything and who sleepwalks.
Everyone else falls asleep, and Jane, Daria, and Lucy set out to find the mummy. Along the way they're creeped out by a room of portraits, startled by a cat, even more startled by the sleepwalking Megan, and scared half to death by Daria, who wraps herself in toilet tissue and pretends to be the mummy.
They don't see a walking mummy (as far as they know...DUN DUN DUN) but they do find an empty sarcophagus with no explanatory card in the wall-plaque thingy. People like me, who've read way too many spooky stories, will already be trying to figure out which girl is the mummy.
When they go back to the Great Hall to sleep, Jane notices Daria slipping away. The next morning there is no record of anyone named "Daria" having signed up for the sleepover, the chaperones don't remember her, and the sarcophagus is no longer empty. The sign, back in place, explains that the mummy is that of an unknown princess aged ten to thirteen, found with her cat.
BUT. There is an epilogue, told from Lucy's point of view and set four years later. She hasn't been back to the museum since the night of the sleepover, and she makes an interesting discovery in the portrait room...which I won't spoil for you.