Exposition (Initial Situation)
A New Place
The book opens up with a girl named April Hall moving to a California college town to stay with her grandma, Caroline. At the beginning, she's totally miffed by this whole situation, and is determined to make it as temporary as possible.
Even though she's introduced to a girl in her building named Melanie—who she gets along with—April still wants to go home to Los Angeles and her fake-eyelashes-wearing mother.
On the bright side, April, Melanie, and Melanie's little brother Marshall start researching ancient Egypt for fun, and one day they find an abandoned yard that they decide to call Egypt. Let the adventures begin.
Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)
Making Friends and Building Worlds
With Melanie's help, April starts making friends—mainly ones who are also nerdily (and adorably) obsessed with ancient Egypt. The kids become more and more involved in the Egypt Game—which is basically them pretending to be Egyptians in the abandoned yard.
They meet another girl in their building named Elizabeth, and she joins the Egypt Game too. Even when a child is murdered in their neighborhood, the kids continue to find ways to visit Egypt. You've got to look on the bright side, after all…
Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)
Invasions in Egypt
On Halloween, the girls and Marshall are caught in the yard by two boys named Toby and Ken. At first they make fun of them, but then they demand to join the game. The little trio has become a sextet. This could have been a terrible turn of events, but instead, Toby and Ken completely take to the game. They help create new rituals and hieroglyphics, and keep the whole Egypt Game a secret.
But then one night, something truly terrifying happens: April and Marshall are attacked when trying to go to Egypt. It's the child murderer, and he has April in his grasp…
A Close Encounter
Thankfully, April and Marshall aren't the only ones around that night. The old man who runs the antiques shop, the Professor, sees April being attacked and calls out for help. April gets away from her attacker when he runs off, and the police come to help the children.
At the police station, Marshall is able to tell the police who the attacker was, and the murderer is finally caught—thanks to April, Marshall, and the Professor. The neighborhood is safe again.
A New Chapter
The book ends with all of the characters celebrating Christmas together, and the Professor giving each of the children a key to the yard where they've been playing the Egypt Game. April has also come to terms with the fact that she's staying with her grandmother for good…and is actually relieved that she'll get to put down roots and have lasting friendships.
At the very end, Melanie and April discuss what game they'll tackle next. Sounds like gypsies are the new Egypt. Sequel, anyone?