Sweet Sixteen = You’re a Queen
Despite living with a shaman, a witch, and a muse for sisters, Rhea Spencer feels like a normal teenager-even if she is the reincarnation of Cleopatra. But all that changes on Rhea’s sixteenth birthday, when her visions of the Egyptian queen start unraveling a very different version of history, and Declan, a hot representative of the secret Order of Antony, shows up on the doorstep to keep her from being kidnapped. Together, Rhea and Declan travel to Egypt to stop the Octavians, a dark cabal trying to tap into Rhea’s growing powers. The cabal seeks to access the magic deep below the desert sands, a potentially devastating force that only Rhea can protect.
Let me start off by saying that I didn’t realize this was a sequel when I requested it, but it doesn’t matter anyway. You can definitely read Rhea’s story as a standalone novel. And I liked it! I’ve been lucky with ARCs in 2013 (minus one), and this one is no different. The summary is straightforward: Rhea is Cleopatra reincarnated, though we don’t know what that entails at first. I loved that this was a supernatural family, that magic wasn’t a big deal to them, and that we didn’t have sixty chapters of Rhea denying her supernaturalness, angsting over her weirdness, or coming to grips with it. It’s established that this family is magical. Even the “normal” boyfriend of her sister knows. I never really warmed up to Rhea–she’s…different and not very sympathetic (she doesn’t talk, she shrieks. Every other sentence)–but I still enjoyed her journey. One thing that had me rolling my eyes though? The sisters are Leah, Rhea, and Gia. I just rolled my eyes typing that sentence. It was a quick-moving story about interesting stuff, and I enjoyed myself.
I liked how Rhea admitted she was popular and had friends, and that she has a boyfriend in the beginning of the novel. So many books are about shy heroines who don’t know they’re beautiful and have no experience with boys. So it’s nice to see it switched up. The appearance of Zombo the zombie dog was a lot of fun, and I really loved that addition. (Whenever there’s an animal companion in a book, it always seems to die, so I try to avoid them, but you can’t kill something that’s already dead!) We see Declan trying to teach Rhea about Cleopatra, Isis, and Egyptian history, and it was kind of cool for me too. One problem I had, and maybe this is because I didn’t read the first novel in the series, was that the characters didn’t really have any development. They only showed up when Rhea needed them or to move the story along. It didn’t seem like Rhea had close relationships with any of them, including her friends from school, her sisters, and even her boyfriend. I’d like to know more about Morgana, honestly, but this is Rhea’s book.
Things did seem a little rushed in this one, and sometimes it feels like things aren’t fleshed out enough. Again, maybe that’s due to there being another book before this one, but I don’t think so. There was a scene with Cleopatra stooped over Marc (“c” not “k”) Antony’s body, and she is screaming her head off. Then, a second later, she is nodding serenely and following as her men carry Antony’s body to her temple. What? It’s a little bipolar, and it happens throughout the book.
I ended up sympathizing with Rhea eventually though. She grew up with magical sisters and a psychic mother. For sixteen years, she assumes she has no powers. Then, when her powers do manifest, not only are people trying to kill her, she is betrayed and forced to flee into the arms of people who don’t make any effort to like her. She’s alone and scared, which is why I thought Slade’s late night visit to her room was sweet.
I know you’re not supposed to say this about ARCs, but this one had typos and continuity issues galore. One minute, the cat is crawling under the table, and one sentence later, he’s in Rhea’s lap. Names are changed from one paragraph to the next (e.g. in chapter 16, Curt is also called Cameron). I hope that everything was tidied up for the actual release, because it really bothered me. It was the worst I had seen in an ARC, and I really liked this book, so I don’t want to see it plagued with silly mistakes. I can forgive that though, honestly, because there’s no love triangle in this one! Declan has a girlfriend, and there really aren’t any other eligible teenagers around, not that Rhea has time to romance.
This one wraps up a little too nicely, but it was a quick, fun read and I have no regrets about requesting it. I will definitely be adding Leah’s story, the eponymous first novel of the series Shadow’s Edge, to my TBR.