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Shadow of the Sphinx Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2003
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About the Author
Constance M Burge is the creator of the TV show. Diana G Gallagher is the author of many TV tie-in novels, including Star Trek and the more junior Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She lives in Ocala, Florida. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I thought Phoebe's only powers were premonition and levitation. When did she acquire this extra power, and does she still have it?
And no, this book does NOT take place after Phoebe's marriage to Cole and subsequent acquisition of evil powers--although I'm confused about when the story does take place. In this book, Phoebe is engaged to Cole, but, although he's apparently traded all his black hats for white ones, he still has demonic powers (he, too, throws energy balls). Yet in the last "Charmed" novel, "Dark Vengeance", Cole had lost his powers and was trying to adjust to life without them. And when, on the show, he regained demonic powers (as The Source), didn't he keep that a secret? Yet here both he and Phoebe are filling the air with "energy balls" to blast demons . (Actually, nothing in the book says it takes place AFTER "Dark Vengeance"; it just seemed a reasonable assumption.)
The author has the characters' "voices" down pat, which is of paramount importance. And although there are holes in the plot which are never really explained (just what is Tyler's power? what is the "connection" with Paige that seems to trigger it? why is it on-again, off-again?), Jablonski can paint amusing and frightening scenes, such as her satirical yet sympathetic descriptions of the blessed-wannabes in the modern-day cult of Thoth, and the cell painted with drawings designed to neutralize magic, which then come unexpectedly to life. And Paige's instincts and behavior after being turned into a cat are amusing and recognizable to anyone who's ever been owned by a cat.
However, there are MAJOR problems with the story. For one thing, Paige may be impulsive, but she's not an idiot, and I can't believe that she'd cast a spell to turn herself into an animal without first bothering to read the entire spell and make sure she knew how to turn herself back. She's also not the kind of romance-novel heroine who sits around waiting for someone to rescue her, and I can't believe that she never even TRIED to orb herself out of the animal shelter when her sisters unwittingly took her there (and come to think of it, orbing would have been a good way to demonstrate to them that she was actually their sister, albeit in the form of a cat, instead of continuing to meow protests that they obviously couldn't understand).
Paige later learns that she CAN orb, even as a cat, though she finds out by accident, not by being clever or resourceful. She also learns that having once performed the transformation spell, she can turn herself into any animal, just by imagining it (until it "wears off", a time limit which is never explained).
But this kind of thing is a big NO-NO for books about series characters! If shape-shifting is so easily accomplished (with just a few ingredients that are found in any well-stocked kitchen, so that Martha Stewart could do it), then why don't The Charmed Ones add it to their repertoire in future, and always fight demons in the form of lions, hawks, etc.? Ah, but that would make demon-fighting too easy, and therefore uninteresting. The sisters may be the most powerful witches in the world, but they can't be ALL-powerful, or there would be no challenges (except in their love lives, which would reduce Charmed to a soap opera--not a bad genre; I just happen to like some magic mixed with my suds). So shape-shifting seems like one power too many for the writers to handle and still develop interesting plots, and yet, once our witches have learned how to do it, why wouldn't they keep doing it regularly? This is the sort of plot device that, when once unwisely introduced, tends to be tacitly "forgotten"--by everyone except the viewer/reader, who is left wondering, the next time The Charmed Ones face a demon, "Why don't they keep the spell mixture handy, to just transform into bigger, badder demons?" And the answer, for "Charmed", is that we would then have five minutes--or pages, as the case may be--of battle and spend the rest of the episode/book discussing Phoebe's divorce (and I care, I really do, but I still need my magical fix; this is "Charmed", not "The Wild and the Wiccan", or "All My Coven". So shame on you, Carla Jablonski, for having introduced a spell that is both so useful/easy and so inconvenient/impossible!
The impression I get is that Jablonski is a talented writer, who could not only have portrayed the Halliwells (plus Leo & Cole) believably, but could have also written a creative book. Instead she chose a rather worn plot device and simply didn't bother with little things like consistency with past--and future--events (it is a series, after all). She also seems to have the misconception that, because this is supernatural-fantasy, it just heightens the "mysterious atmosphere" when magical happenings go unexplained. On the contrary, the greats of horror/fantasy writing knew that magic has to have its own rules, like the laws of science (sure, you can invent the parameters for your own fiction--for instance, does a vampire have a reflection or not? you're the author, you decide--but not if you're writing in a series featuring characters in a universe developed by others). And both the magic and the characters must be consistent. Finally, though mysterious happenings need not be explained, the reader should be left with enough data to form a likely opinion, not going "huh?"
A plea to authors of future "Charmed" novels (blessings on their race; may they be fruitful and multiply, and keep those "Charmed" stories coming!): The show doesn't assume that either the characters or the viewers are morons, and the authors of novels shouldn't either. Fortunately, not all of them do.
This one does.
Author: Carla Jablonski
Genre: Media Tie-In Fiction, Paranormal/Supernatural
Rating: 3 stars
Another okay addition to the Charmed novels. I liked the look at ancient Egypt but had some problems with other things in the story. One being that Piper and Phoebe had to cast a spell to go to ancient Egypt but Leo was able to orb them from the past to the present. If he could do that why not the reverse? I guess the author didn't watch Charmed.
personally, i thought this book was the best in the series so far, though the brewing storm, dark vengeance and date with death are close seconds. the things that disappoint other people don't bother me at all. maybe that's just because i haven't watched many episodes of the actual tv series, but hey, i'm reading the books after all. then again, i didn't even notice those 'problems' until i read the reviews. but that doesn't really bother me.
sure, i bet some of you out there are thinking, hey, what does a kid know about this type of stuff? well, i've read pretty much the entire charmed series, and plenty of others besides, some of which are adult fiction. sure, it's not a big claim, but at least i know what i'm talking about.
would i recommend this book to anyone? geez, i don't know... hey, are you kidding? of course! for any charmed fan. i know some of you will be dissapointed, but, well, that's your problem, not mine.
Most recent customer reviews
lighten up a bit. i am currently writing my own charmed book and it is already not consistent with the tv...Read more