Curse of the Specter Queen

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Curse of the Specter Queen
Age Range
12+
Release Date
June 01, 2021
ISBN
978-1368063982
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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!

Editor reviews

2 reviews
overall entertaining YA historical fiction
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN was an intriguing YA historical fiction with code-breaking, good friends, and imminent danger. Sam works at a bookstore, when a diary arrives for her friend, Bennett. She takes it to him right away, but then later that night, two suspicious men come looking for it. When she insists that she has not seen it and doesn't know what they are talking about, they burn the shop down with her in it. After she escapes, she travels with her friend Jo to find Bennett and warn him.

As they look at the diary, they must solve the code and follow the steps to figure out what is going on, leading them down paths they never would have expected. This definitely has some Indiana Jones and The Mummy vibes.

The characters were really great, and I enjoyed their journey with all their energy, sarcasm, and witty quips. The code-breaking is a highlight in the book, and I loved watching them solve it all and figure it out. I found the writing to be a bit like a movie, where action happens fast and you fill in the blanks along the way. The start felt a little confusing to me as I put it all together, and it's one that is tough to put down and pick up as you need to remember the details as you go.

Overall, CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN was an entertaining YA historical fiction read with code-breaking, mysteries, and fun characters.
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Adventure and Mystery Abound
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
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.
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