The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli

The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel BavliThe Secret of the Sphinx has a lot to draw in the reader with well-written descriptions and largely good interactions as long as you ignore the occasional modern word or phrase when in ancient Egypt. I enjoyed quite a bit of the story, but I can’t give an unqualified recommendation despite that because there were some weaknesses too.

The main character, Jon, is largely along for the ride. He makes a few decisions, but mostly his actions are driven by events or what the sphinx, Neb, thinks is necessary. This doesn’t mean Jon is without character, though, as how he completes his assignments, his shaky trust in Neb’s abilities, and the information he gathers are all important to the story. I enjoyed his combination of over-confidence and concern, which is appropriate for the situation he found himself in. He was often an observer more than an actor, but when he saw his chance, he did what he could.

While not a weakness, the way the story allowed any character to hold the Point of View (POV) rather than sticking with the main characters was complicit in the biggest problem I had. To avoid spoilers, I’ll say only the solution to the mystery was not well seeded and contradicts what we learn in one of those POV shifts to non-main characters. I do, however, love the way the overall puzzle is solved. This was, I felt, seeded well, and came together beautifully to link the past with the present and Jon’s normal life with this strange adventure he’s pulled into.

Neb is another good element. I thought the way the sphinx functioned in the modern world and the past worked nicely, while I appreciated how he wasn’t all powerful despite everything. Considering he’d been learning to control amazing magical abilities for centuries, he could easily have been a simple solution to every problem. Instead, he had limitations, he was not all knowing, and he could make mistakes, sometimes critical ones.

I don’t review things I didn’t enjoy, so the fact that you’re seeing this is proof enough I had fun reading The Secret of the Sphinx. Beyond the mystery’s solution, the issues were minor, if annoying at times. It may be younger readers (the target of this young adult title) would find the minor issues less noticeable, but it’s a dangerous assumption to make. This book had great potential, and in some cases, it lived up to that potential, but not in all.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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