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.