Cheryl is starting a blog tour for Tutankhamen Speaks, and my spot is officially Monday, when I have an interview with her. Today though, I review what you might call a companion volume to Tut Speaks – Sons of the Sphinx.
2014 Silver Medal for PreTeen/YA from Literary Classics
2014 Literary Classics Seal of Approval
Armed with what she considers her grandmother’s curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tutankhamen find his lost queen Hesena. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemheb – who crosses mortal boundaries using Seth’s evil magic – if she is to stay alive to make it back home. Needing to help right a wrong done over 3000 years ago and reunite the boy king with his queen (whose tomb has yet to be identified or found), allows Rosa to come to terms with who she is and find her place in this world.
Rosa is an ordinary teen, worried about her maths test, her boyfriend status (nil, but with a huge crush on someone unattainable), and her lack of friends generally. But then she isn’t so ordinary, and that’s what keeps people away. She hears dead people, just like her grandmother did. It’s supposed to be a gift, but she doesn’t see it that way, and she tends to rail against it during the early part of the book, when the ghost of a seriously hot intriguing young man appears in her bedroom seeking her help – her destiny, in fact.
Seriously hot is what turns out to be her destination as he transports her through a time wrap (wrap not warp – nice, but I thought I’d confirm I hadn’t typo’d it) to Egypt, three thousand years in the past. There are some clever things he does to move them forward a few years and back again, in order to hunt for the tomb of his grandfather Ay, and his wife, Hesena, and more clever things that help Rosa communicate with Hesena – although time is running out, as she feels with every communication between them.
This is a combination of a love story, time travel adventure and historical novel, in all the best possible senses. Although Rosa can be irritating with her comments to the reader (or thin air) at the start, her comments become more pensive and urgent as time rushes by. The detailed descriptions of the places, cities, monuments, tombs and the general countryside really bring this book to life, even if it’s populated by ghosts. We see ghosts looking at themselves as they were, and feeling the pain of grief as well as the pride of majesty.
Ms Carpinello wends in plenty of titbits that she addresses in the shorter book Tutankhamen Speaks (see review Monday), which I recognised since I read that first, but I think if you read them the other way round you will enjoy both just as much, since Tut Speaks will add extra detail to the life unfolded in this exciting novel.
Sons of the Sphinx is both heart-warming and scary; it has tension, pace and urgency, and I was totally engrossed in it. Excellent work, and a must for any young reader.
Five stars from me, because it deserves the ‘amazing’ tag!
Disclosure: Cheryl Carpinello is a fellow BookElf but that does not affect my review of her work. I bought Sons of the Sphinx on ebook from Amazon at what I believe to be full price, partly to complement the review of Tutankhamen Speaks on Monday’s blog tour, but I have had it on my TBR list since the Book Release blast and excerpt in 2014.