Twinkling stars

Cover of Fish & Sphinx, a fantasy novel by Rae Bridgman


It's a very fishy tale...

Wil Wychwood’s magical medallion weighs heavily on him. For once, he would like to live a normal life. Tired of bearing the burden of the Serpent’s Chain secret society, he plans to toss the medallion into the rising river waters. But when mists reveal a new mystery, cousins Wil and Sophie tumble into the secret realm of Catfysh, the Spirit of the River, and a plot to destroy the most magical building in Canada.

In this adventure, the world of magical MiddleGate intersects with the Manitoba Legislature - the Palace of the Blazing Star - where stone sphinxes, bison, lions, snakes and goddesses protect an ancient mystery. Cousins Wil and Sophie follow secret signs, decode cryptic messages, and work to solve a riddle to unleash powerful allies locked in stone. But even if they succeed – will they ever escape from the trials of the ancient medallion? And what will be the cost of their secrets and lies?

Bowl of flames






Fish & Sphinx

print copy available through
McNally Robinson Bookseller

FREE e-book (*.pdf)

Honourable Mention
Speculative Literature Foundation

Nominated for Cybils Award
Fantasy and Science Fiction


"That's funny," said Wil. "I thought I heard voices. They were everywhere - whispers. But I couldn't understand what they were saying. Sshhh, listen, there they are again."

Sophie's glasses turned pale mauve and her eyes widened. "I hear them now . . . but there's no one here, just us."

The fog swirled around the children, holding them close. A splash by the river startled them both and they turned to see what it was. There standing before them, was a woman wearing long, silvery robes. Her hair was matted and whiskers trailed from her chin. But it was her eyes that were the most startling. Pale and wide-set, they glimmered like two moons.

The woman was surrounded by shimmering figures - a young girl wearing diaphanous clothing, her body covered in colourful tattoos, a woman wearing a long blue cloak, who gazed at Wil and Sophie with what seemed like great sadness, two young children about six and nine, one girl, one boy, both with blond hair almost white, several young men wearing rough denim jackets, an old man with grizzled beard and ragged clothes.

The figures seemed real enough, but their eyes were an unearthly, glowing green. They were whispering something, but Wil could not understand the words. Their hands reached out to Sophie and Wil, as if to pull them into the water, while the woman in the blue cloak bowed her head.

Even though he had not been touched by them, Wil felt their wet cold. He and Sophie drew back from them, frightened, but the figures only pressed forward.

The woman raised her hand. At her gesture, the figures joined hands and encircled Wil, Sophie, and the woman. They danced around them until Wil began to feel dizzy. An ancient, fishy smell filled the air, as the woman gazed at them both. But she said nothing; she seemed to be waiting for them to speak.

"Who . . . who . . . are you?" asked Wil finally.

"Wait'ysh for you," said the woman, her voice a mere whisper. "In your world, my name be'ysh Catfysh."

"You're . . . you're a fish?" asked Sophie incredulously.

"Human'ysh myself and walk'ysh on the earth," said Catfysh. "I carry'ysh a message."


"a mystical mystery"

"sharp, polished prose
and a sense of adventure"

"as chock fun of fanciful characters, intrigue, and action as ever"

"slapstick comedy mingles with frightening enemies and unexpected allies"

"myth and allegory add a special
depth to these stories"

"well-paced prose, smooth dialogue,
lyrical poetic sequences"

"a feast of language and imagery,
tangled phrases and playful rhymes"

" fun-filled tale of magic, myths, ancient Egypt and mystery that people of all ages can enjoy...highly recommended"

“Rae Bridgman is a fantastic author and Fish and Sphinx is a fantastic book. If you like mystery novels about magic, myths, and ancient Egypt then Fish and Sphinx is the perfect book for you to enjoy.”Allison Witzel, WhatIf? Magazine
full article

“Bridgman once again takes the reader on a wild ride through an imaginary world. She uses her background in Latin and anthropology to populate the pages of her fantasy adventure...There are also interesting and unusual pen and ink drawings in the novel which add an air of mystery."— Myra Junyk, Resource Links
full article

"The author's delight in wordplay is given full rein throughout, but particularly in the shapeshifting chapter, when Wil and Sophie are changed into catfish. The deepening sense that the heroes are in over their heads, surrounded on all sides by enemies whose motives they still don't understand, but who threaten everything they care about, will leave readers who like their fantasy to contain a good dose of mystery and suspense looking for the next volume."
— K.V. Johansen, "Books Worth Another Look," Dorchester Public Library
full article

Both boys and girls will like Fish & Sphinx equally, mainly because the two main characters are brother and sister, so readers will experience both boy and girl point of views. This book had me interested all the way through it, capturing my interest with unique ideas such as fish sphinxes, mythical creatures, and new personalities.
— Dylan James, Reader Views
full article

“Bridgman provides a variety of interest-catching elements - slightly wacky Aunt Violet setting up a fortune-telling business in the outside world, serious Aunt Rue in line for a major promotion, quirky neighbours, new friends Beatriz and Phinneas, Euphemus the soap box orator, a mysterious white-haired German-speaking woman with piercing blue eyes, Cadmus the cat, Esme the snake, Catfysh "Protectress the Immortal," the various Mages at Gruffuds, squabbling stone heads Portia and Portius, Sophie's "mood" glass frames, the annual Winterlude Festival, an unique Valentine's party, a fishy-smelling book with disappearing print, a BUZzz ball, a potential flood, magical fish - all of which should appeal to young fantasy fans and have them anticipating another instalment in the cousins adventures. In the "Epilogue" Bridgman promises, "dear children, much, much more remains to be told.—Darleen Golke, Canadian Review of Materials (CM Magazine)
full article

As chock fun of fanciful characters, intrigue, and action as ever, author Rae Bridgman has crafted another delightful adventure for...magical cousins [Wil and Sophie]. Introducing each chapter are Latin inscriptions (gratefully translated into English, which helps even those of us who studied four years of that classical language so many years ago there must be at least an inch of dust on that file in our brains!). That touch is a Rae Bridgman signature...Also, laced throughout the book are Bridgman's own ink illustrations - and fish abound everywhere. These are a fun addition to an already wonderful fish story.—Janie Franz, MyShelf
full article

A mystical mystery at the legislature, [this is] the third and most successful in her MiddleGate series....Bridgman's use of Latin quotations and her knowledge of myth and allegory add a special depth to these stories.—Helen Norrie , Winnipeg Free Press
full article

“I enjoy the many unusual characters of Bridgman's books, such as Mage Terpsy, who reverses the initial letters of words when speaking (e.g., parely bossible); Aunt Violet, who dyes her hair a brilliant red for a Valentine's Day party; Peeping Peerslie, the resident ghost of the school library; and the strange homeless Catfysh, with her strong fishy smell and long whispers. The author also manages to include many interesting factual details in her story, such as the tale of the Golden Boy atop the legislative building, and the description of the bison statues at the entrance.”—Donna Gamache, Prairie Fire Magazine
full article

Fish and Sphinx is a fun-filled tale of magic, myths, ancient Egypt, and mystery that people of all ages can enjoy. One of my favorite things about the series is that the author doesn’t “talk down” to the audience she writes for - each chapter begins with a made-up poetic quote in Latin that is then translated into English, which tells something important about the chapter ahead. It’s a kind of foreshadowing done in a pretty cool and different way, and Rae Bridgman, I can tell, had fun making the quotes up.”—Douglas R. Cobb, Curled Up with a Good Kid's Book full article

See also interview with Dale Barbour
and Laura Lehman's Bella Online review, plus TracyFarnsworth's nice review in Roundtable Reviews for Kids!

Gem flourish
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