• Curse of the Specter Queen (A Samantha Knox Novel Volume 1) by Jenny Elder Moke
Curse of the Specter Queen Book Cover Curse of the Specter Queen
A Samantha Knox Novel
Jenny Elder Moke
Teen, Young Adult, detective, historical fantasy
Disney Hyperion
June 1, 2021
Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

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?

A mesmerizing mystery…

The Curse of the Specter Queen (A Samantha Knox Novel Volume 1) by Jenny Elder Moke is a cloak and dagger mystery set in the roaring 20’s.  Samantha’s humble existence does not preclude her from growing up best friends with Joanna Steeling and her older brother Bennett, heirs to the Steeling fortune.  Sam’s intelligence and gift at solving complex, cryptic puzzles and treasure hunts, created by Mr. Steeling, kept them quite engaged and nurtured dreams of going off together and becoming great archeologists.  After the death her father fighting during WWI, real world realities tie her back to life in Clement, Il., helping her mother on the farm while managing and restoring rare books in Mr. Steeling’s bookstore.  But, an unexpected delivery of a strange and archaic diary sets in motion an adventure that will bring the three friends back together, taking their skills and teamwork to a whole new, life-threatening level.

Jenny’s new teen/YA series kicks off with a bang with the release of Curse of the Specter Queen.  This wonderfully engaging and captivating mystery hooks you from page one and takes you on a heart pumping ride to the end.  Sam, Joanna, and Bennett are a unique yet compatible trio with complex dynamics that add a very interpersonal interaction, conflict, and growth to multi-faceted riddle, reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code.  The attention to detail in the setting and dialogue transports the reader to the height of the roaring ’20s and gives the book a wonderful atmosphere as the characters travel from rural Illinois, to bustling Chicago, and on to historic Dublin in a quest that could result in the end of the world if they fail.

I am a big fan of historical stories that are entertaining for all ages.  Jenny Elder Moke’s Curse of the Spector Queen gets on both accounts.   Her concurrent plots give the story both an interpersonal aspect as well as high-paced suspense.  Both build wonderfully with twists and turns that are surprising and effective in taking this story to its amazing end.  Knowing that this is a Disney published book, I would expect to see more of Samantha Knox in the future and maybe even an adaptation to screen.