Book Review: Curse of the Sphinx by Raye Wagner

by - 9:05:00 PM

Title: Curse of the Sphinx
Author: Raye Wagner
Pages: 344
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 11 August 2015

From Goodreads: "How long can a monster stay hidden in plain sight?

Seventeen year-old Hope Nicholas has spent her entire life on the run. But no one is chasing her. In fact, no one even knows she exists. With her mom, she’s traveled from town to town and school to school, barely staying long enough to meet anyone, let alone make friends. And she’ll have to keep it that way. It’s safer.

When her mother is brutally ripped away from her, Hope’s life shatters. Is this the fulfillment of Apollo’s curse, murder from the shadow monsters of the Underworld, or have the demigods finally found her? Orphaned and alone, Hope flees again, but this time there’s no one to teach her who to trust—or how to love."

Thank you to Raye Wagner for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

Curse of the Sphinx was a very interesting book. It has Gods, demigods, Sphinxes, monsters from Hades, a curse, exciting writing, and characters you can't help but love. This was my first experience with Greek mythology in YA books and honestly, I was not disappointed.

Hope Nicholas has spent her entire life running from no one. No one even knows she exists. At seventeen years old, she travels with her mom from town to town, never staying too long in one place or making friends. It's safer that way, but she doesn't know why. When her mother is taken away from her by Apollo, Hope must now learn how to live and survive on her own. How long can a Sphinx survive on her own while being hunted by demigods and monsters of the Underworld?

This book caught my interest when I read that it was about Greek Gods and Sphinxes. I've never read a book on the Greek Gods before (no, not even the Percy Jackson series) and I was definitely ready to take a trip into that world with Curse of the Sphinx. The plot line was enticing and I was curious as to what exactly Apollo's Curse was and why it was put on the Sphinxes. I also thought it was an interesting bit of information that the main character was the granddaughter of the original Sphinx that guarded the city of Thebes. I believe there is a prequel novella that tells the story of how the curse came to be, and I'm really interested to read that and learn the origin story!

One thing that threw me off pretty hard about this world was that people knew the Gods, demigods, and Skia existed. There are temples that are well-known to the public, classes in school about mythology, and people are constantly talking about praying to various Gods for a number of things in their daily life. This was such a unique concept, but one that was slightly lost on me for a bit while reading. There were several times that I thought that maybe people knew about the Gods/demigods still existing in the modern world, but maybe they didn't. For the record, they did. It was kind of hard for me to understand that at first, and I will admit I was confused for a good portion of the book and found myself going "Do they know? How can they know?! WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT DEMIGODS YOU DON'T KNOW. Oh wait, you do know." Once I realized that, I was good to go and just could not get enough of this book!

I had an interesting relationship with Hope throughout the book. Throughout the book, she was going through a very difficult time living on her own after losing her mother and trying her best to stay hidden and safe. She was sad almost constantly and even experiences an outburst while in her Sphinx form due to all of the pent up anger and sadness about her situation. But despite all of that, she was strong, able to be independent when necessary, and quite sassy at times, which I, of course, adored about her. When it came to her and Athan, I wasn't sure how I felt about the relationship. In honesty, it felt somewhat forced at times, and like they had little chemistry. But there were other times that I thought they did really well together, despite who they were and what I knew would eventually happen. I definitely didn't dislike Hope, in fact I really liked her, I just had a bit of a roller coaster when it came to my feelings on her. I loved that she wasn't a weak character that constantly needed to be saved and looked after, but she also wasn't afraid to show her feelings. It was a good balance that was very enjoyable to read about. Hope was essentially the anti-trope, where she took every typical YA female main character trope (ex: insta-love, constantly needing rescuing, weak and insanely emotional, etc.) and said no to it. Also, I really enjoyed reading about the drastic change she had to live through, going from living on the run constantly with her mom to staying in one place and living on her own for the first time. Since being on the run was all she knew, but didn't know why they were always moving around, being on her own was a big deal for Hope and seeing her adapt to her new life and surroundings was very interesting to read about.

Athan, on the other hand, initially came off as an annoying playboy that was just going through a bunch of girls for the fun of it. Although once I learned why that was happening, I was able to understand him and his actions better. He's the dark and mysterious bad boy that you can't help but love, with extra emphasis on the mysterious part! I think I would enjoy a bit more backstory on Athan, as readers got a lot of information about Hope throughout the book and I would like to know more about his life and how he works with his father. There was a small part at the beginning about him and his father, but I'd love to know more about his past and such. Hopefully there will be more about him in the sequel, Demigods and Monsters, because I think he could turn into a really great character.

Raye Wagner's writing was very easy to read and I absolutely flew through this book once I was able to sit down and get into it. She did a wonderful job at basically getting to the point of things, so to speak, and was the right amount of descriptive to give you an idea of where you are in the book and what is happening. I definitely found myself creeped out at the Skia appearing out of nowhere more than once! I really enjoyed how fast this book was, and I'm normally not a huge fan of fast-paced books, but it felt right for Curse of the Sphinx. It was quick and easy and allowed me to get to the sequel that much faster! Something that I wanted to commend her on was the clever inclusion of the butcher giving Hope riddles every time they interacted. I thought it was a fun little addition that fit the idea of the Sphinx, as they are known for telling riddles, and I'm sure Hope got a kick out of it as well.

I found myself going back and forth on my feelings about Curse of the Sphinx, but my final feelings on it are nothing but positive. The plot was interesting and really drew me in, the writing made it easy to fly through, and the characters are ones you'll find yourself wanting to read more about. Plus, this is a world where people are aware that Gods and demigods exist! That alone makes this a very unique read, and it's definitely one you won't want to miss out on. I am so excited to pick up Demigods and Monsters and continue Hope and Athan's story. Be sure to pick up Curse of the Sphinx by Raye Wagner and be ready for a new take on the world of the Greek Gods!

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