Title: Curse of the Sphinx
Author: Raye Wagner
Source: Received from author in exchange for honest review.
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.
Set in a universe where mythology is alive and well in the modern world, Curse of the Sphinx irresistibly blends action, suspense and romance.
I’ve always loved books that dealt with Greek Mythology, and was beyond thrilled when I got the opportunity to work with Raye Wagner and review her book, Curse of the Sphinx. Regan from PeruseProject mentioned this novel a few times on her channel and I was instantly intrigued. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but the premise of the book had my attention.
I didn’t know too much about the Sphinx before starting this novel, other than their physical shape and animalistic attributes. What captivated me most with this novel, was the idea that the protagonist was cursed, dealing with the death of her mother, learning how to live in a world where she was hunted for being who she was, and coped with all of this completely alone.
The Prologue of this novel starts with a confusing bang! There’s so much going on, we witness Hope’s (the protagonist) mother get murdered, and we’re thrust into this world where everyone knows what’s going on, except us. It was a little jarring in the beginning, but looking back it worked to convey just how intricate this world is and how deep the politics of the Gods-Demigods-Skia-Monster-Human system really is.
The first couple of chapters are snapshots of Hope and her mother constantly moving. Although they were necessary to set up the rest of the story and their relationship, these chapters were a tad slow to get through. Once Hope’s mother is murdered and she’s thrust into the world on her own the pace of the novel began to pick up.
What I really liked about this universe is that mythology isn’t just a myth. In this novel, even the humans are taught about Gods and Demigods in school and study them the same way students in real life study U.S. History. It was hilarious to see this system being taught through Hope’s eyes. As a Sphinx, Hope is considered a monster, who has to remain hidden because the humans fear her and everyone else wants her dead.
Once Hope meets Athan, she begins to unravel and grows into herself. Unlike a lot of YA books on the market these days, Hope doesn’t suffer through insta-love. She instead, stays true to her character and refuses Athan for way longer than I anticipated. When she finally does give in to her feelings for him it feels genuine, they’ve built a friendship and a repertoire that is believable.
On the surface this novel is about throwing a real, living myth into high school and watching as she tries to stay undetected and alive. While that would probably be a decent read, this novel went beyond that. Curse of the Sphinx had a balance of death, grief, coping, inner growth, friendship, love, and war. War is possibly too strong of a word, but Hope does go through battles with Skia (children of Hades who hunt to kill Demigods). It was nice to see Hope standing on her own two feet (most of the time) without always needing to be rescued by the male lead. Hope does show moments of vulnerability by allowing Athan to help her on her own terms, when she’s ready and willing to accept his help. Towards the end of the novel I was definitely waiting for the other shoe to drop, and give us our cliff hanger. I had a few ideas of what that would be in mind, but Wagner provided something totally unexpected!
If you’re a fan of Percy Jackson or the Sweet trilogy, you’ll enjoy this novel. The mythology is the underlying premise of the novel, while the forbidden love carries the plot through to fruition and leaves your heart pounding. I’m very excited to see where Hope and Athan take this story in the second novel, which comes out this April!