Monday, 6 June 2016

Review | Curse of the Sphinx, by Raye Wagner

What You Need To Know:
Title: Curse of the Sphinx
Author: Raye Wagner
Number of Pages: 344
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Greek Mythology, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Series/Standalone: First in the Sphinx Series
Publisher: 9th August, 2015
Publication Date: Self published by Raye Wagner

The Plot:
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

My Thoughts:
When I was given the opportunity to get sent a free copy of this book in exchange for a review, I leapt at the chance. Who wouldn't! I knew absolutely nothing about this book other than the fact that it was about Greek Mythology. Now I can tell you that this does not disappoint. I know that I can't be the only one who adores a good book about Greek mythology. But there are very few good mythology books out there that are accurate and have an interesting storyline. The main example that everyone is most likely thinking about has got to be The Percy Jackson Series, by the King himself Rick Riordan. He has made it extremely difficult for us readers to have any new loves in the world of Greek mythology. Well step aside Percy because here comes Hope!

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

This story brings the old and the new sides to mythology literature in one beautiful bind up. We see the different types of Gods and their offspring out there; with much different personalities than we aer used to. Yet the world knows about the existance of Gods and Demi-gods and Monsters. Instead of Religious Studies, they have mythology lessons. Which is something that is rarely seen. In most mythology worlds, the normal people have no idea that the Gods from Myths and Legends are real, in order to expand the suspense when the main character discovers that he or she is a Demi-god or something like that. But not in the case of this book, the characters are educated about the various Gods and other legends so that we, as a reader, can learn some more facts too. But that isn't the only new side to the story either. Our hero isn't a Demigod searching for their Godly parent. No Hope is a monster; a Sphinx. Everyone believes that all the Sphinx's are dead but no, Oedipus didn't kill Sphinx. Instead he allowed her to escape and live in the world of Mortals. For a story to be told through the eyes of a typical villain, I leapt for joy at that! It's like all the Disney's that have been coming out that prove that the villain isn't as evil as everyone thinks! It's something that everyone really needs to read! So when I heard that that was what this book was about, I picked it up and didn't put it down until I was done!

"The dead they escorted always cried .... clearly, there was something they felt a need to mourn." 

There were so many things about this book that I adored. Particularly the writing style. Raye Wagner I don't know where you have been hiding but you have one of the most beautiful writing styles that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Sometimes I find that when a writer is publishing their debut novel, their writing style can be a bit sloppy at times. But this was not the case here. Raye Wagner wrote with effortless ease with dialogue that fluidly moved the plot along and such beautiful descriptive language that I really can't fault. She used such simple words at times that just expressed everything and her use of metaphors! You are a leader is you craft, Ms Wagner!

"'I'm so sorry,' The words fell all over the floor, the mess too big to step around, opening a gaping chasm between the two of them."

The different relationships that were written about in this were so genuine. There was the relationship with Leto and Hope. So little books have believable mother and daughter relationships. They either play the mother as a wicked or heartless woman or they are just absent figure. Now of course their relationship wasn't perfect, because no parental/child relationship is. But even though they have their moments when they can't stand each other, it properly represents a single parent's relationship with their child. The trust and need between the two of them, it was truly beautiful.
Another relationship shown was the one between Hope and Athan. Of course there had to be a love interest in here somehow and it did come in a surprising form. Athan is the son of Hermes, a Demi God sent to find Hope. He didn't know what she looked like or anything just that she was a sphinx and he wasn't expecting her to look the way that she did and act the way that she did. Initially he seemed to be a bit of a self loving arse but as the book continued it was clear that that was just an act and the two of them swiftly began to fall for one another. Now not swiftly like insta-love. Oh no, it developed over time and it was a beautiful development. Their relationship just felt so natural which is something that I truly look for in novels since it just creates a realistic character in my eyes. They were a beautiful couple, not perfect of course, but still beautiful.

"Hope snorted. 'I've seen your parade of friendships over the last week.' She grimaced. 'I'm not interested in cuddling in the library, or meeting you at my locker.'
He chuckled. 'That is not what I meant. Besides, not one of those girls was looking for friendship.' He tipped his head at her. 'For being so uninterested, you sure notice a lot.'
'Noticing and caring are hardly the same thing.'"

Yet the main thing that truly made me love this book was the comparison to the normal and the abstract. So few books mention things like periods or the social pressure that is placed on teens. So few are relatable as well as being a fantasy. Its like authors forget that at times things need to be realistic, especially if it is set in a school setting.
An example of this from this novel is the fear and stress that Hope feels towards completing her homework. If a student misses masses of school they are going to have to complete masses of homework. It makes sense so I'm over the moon that Raye Wagner has considered this and mentioned it in this book. It created a believable sense to Hope's character that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Another example being the tension between Hope and the popular girls. It's something that all people feel, the pressure to fit in with the popular crowd or live in isolation. Yet once again it is something that few books mention and it just creates a realistic edge to the book.
Throughout, there are elements of this novel that show a young girl dealing with grief and moving to a new town, something that would affect so many deeply. It makes Hope more realistic so that the supernatural elements are still completely breathtaking.

"There were no words. Hope stared at her hands as if the answers might appear within her palms, but the only thing she saw were the cracks and lines, a map that went nowhere, that meant nothing."

But among all of this there was the world of the mythical that Hope was in. A world of Gods, Demi-gods and monsters. It was seen through the eyes of someone else, someone that we wouldn't name as the Hero of our story and because of it we were able to see different things. We got to see her transformation and the fear that she has to go through once a month now that she is on her own, a fear that she didn't know before because of her mother's presence. It just created a whole new edge to the world. It really was amazing.

This was such a beautiful novel that told a story in a completely different way than I have ever read before. The writing was breathtaking and I know that this is a series that I wish to finish. I salute you Raye Wagner for this astonishing piece of work. It truly deserves *****

Book Total of 2016 - 41