Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: The Slayer and the Sphinx

I just finished reading a book called The Slayer and the Sphinx, a young adult fantasy by author Adam Bolander.  It features several races of "Mythics" (fantasy creatures) who secretly inhabit our own world but are shunned, feared, or persecuted by humans.  Porter, a teenage boy, is a "slayer" whose job is to hunt down and kill Mythics.  Sarah, a young sphinx, is one of his targets.  But things go wrong when he attacks her home; he is injured and ends up with amnesia, forgetting his mission and his own identity.  Sarah and Porter end up lost in a forest together, forced to rely on each other for survival as they try to find their way out.  Along the way, they meet other Mythics and encounter a variety of dangers.  The story ends before Porter regains his memory or the two (plus friends they've made along the way) reach their destination, so readers will be forced to read the sequel (which is not yet available) to find out what happens.

All in all, this was an interesting story.  The author had some great ideas, and I felt that he fleshed out the characters pretty well.  Each particular race of Mythics was given distinct traits and a unique culture, which made me interested to meet more of them.  Some creative concepts were presented, my favorite being a sentient sword that could communicate with its master.

I did feel, however, that parts of the story could have been fleshed out better.  The settings were very narrowly described, so that I never got a clear picture of what the larger world was like or even what part of the world the story takes place in.  Some issues were a little unclear, such as why Sarah's parents said it was too dangerous for her to accompany them on a direct trip (using teleportation) to one of the safest havens in the world for Mythics; why someone who had just met Porter would give him a rare and valuable weapon; why and how a few animals can talk but not others; how the rules of magic use among humans work, etc.  Certain character actions and reactions seemed a little unrealistic (for example, if I had seen someone I'd known all my life beheaded, I would have responded with a lot more grief, terror, and anger; and I would have kept recalling and probably having nightmares about the event).  Also, I found a number of typos and errors in grammar and punctuation in the book.  (Hey, I'm a teacher; I can't help but notice these things!)

Overall, though, The Slayer and the Sphinx was an enjoyable book.  I would give it three out of five stars and recommend it to teens, preteens, or kids (it's pretty easy to read) who like fantasy.  If it had a rating, it would probably be PG for mild violence and "children in jeopardy".  There was no profanity, sex, or unnecessary blood and guts in the fighting scenes.  The book promoted positive moral values like trust, loyalty, and the concept that no matter a person's past, anyone can change and start a new life.  

Click here to view The Slayer and the Sphinx or buy a copy on Amazon.  If you enjoy the fantasy genre, I'd say it's worth the 99 cents the eBook will cost you.  Happy reading!

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