I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke
Series: A Samantha Knox Novel #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 2021-06-01
Length: 352 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2021, 2021 New Release Challenge, COYER 2021
MAY THE HAZEL BRING YOU WISDOM AND THE ASPEN GUIDE AND PROTECT YOU...
Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn't return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam's peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose - to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher - one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?
Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920s, full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action - the first in a brand-new series!
Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke is Indiana Jones meets The Mummy (1999) and encompasses everything I could possibly want in a book. There’s action and adventure, a hint of romance, a curse, and a lot of puzzle solving all set in beautiful Ireland. Following Samantha Knox as she sets out to discover the mysteries behind an ancient journal, Curse of the Specter Queen is for all the kids who grew up longing for adventure.
Sam is a wonderfully complex character. She is set in her ways, working at her friend’s father’s antique bookshop restoring and cataloguing the books. When a mysterious package arrives with an ancient diary and brings with it the destruction of her bookshop, Sam becomes determined to uncover its origins. Believing her friends are in danger, Sam will stop at nothing until she discovers the truth. I really like Sam. She’s shy and a bit backwards, very smart, and yet she hides herself away. She shies away from the spotlight, and for the last seven years has spent her life mourning her father and shunning those she was once close to.
Joana and Bennett Steeling were once Sam’s closest friends, and now they hardly speak to one another. I love Jo. She’s the exact opposite of Sam. She’s feisty, spunky, and headstrong. Jo brings out the best in Sam, allowing her the space she needs to work and providing the tools to do so. I loved Bennett too! He is Sam’s unrequited, childhood crush. Like Sam, he’s a little shy and backwards, at least around Sam 😉
The diary was sent to Bennett from his professor in Ireland. He is joining him there for an archaeological dig on the Hellfire Club, an ancient organization who practiced dark magic and worshipped Ireland’s three-faced goddess the Morrigan. When the shop is burned by men searching for the diary, Jo and Sam set off to try and warn Bennett before it is too late. I loved the action and adventure throughout the story. The pacing was steady, sucking me into the story. I didn’t want to set it down! I loved the historical setting (somewhere in the mid to late 1920s if I had to guess), and the characters helped to drive the plot.
Overall I really enjoyed Curse of the Specter Queen. Sam is a wonderful character. I hope to get more adventures with her as she sets off with Bennett and Jo. If you enjoy historical fiction with a bit of fantasy and a heaping of adventure, I highly recommend it.