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Curse of the Specter Queen

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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. Ruthl 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!


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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. Ruthl 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!

30 review for Curse of the Specter Queen

  1. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **3.5-stars rounded up** Curse of the Specter Queen is an Archaeological Adventure story set in the 1920s; think a Young Adult, gender-flipped version of Indiana Jones. Samantha Knox, works at an antique bookshop where she regularly works on and repairs damaged books. One day she receives an extra-special volume in the post from a Professor of her childhood friend, Bennett. The diary is said to contain secrets to an occult ritual that could possibly raise the Morrigan, a goddess from Celtic folklor **3.5-stars rounded up** Curse of the Specter Queen is an Archaeological Adventure story set in the 1920s; think a Young Adult, gender-flipped version of Indiana Jones. Samantha Knox, works at an antique bookshop where she regularly works on and repairs damaged books. One day she receives an extra-special volume in the post from a Professor of her childhood friend, Bennett. The diary is said to contain secrets to an occult ritual that could possibly raise the Morrigan, a goddess from Celtic folklore said to be a harbinger of war and death. Sam doesn't think too much of it at first, but when dangerous men break into her shop, and appear to be looking for it, she begins to realize its value. Pairing up with her estranged best friend, Joana, and Joana's brother, Bennett, Sam flees from Illinois for Ireland in order to reunite with the Professor and try to solve the mystery of the diary. Of utmost importance, is keeping the diary out of the hands of evil-doers who may be seeking it for their own diabolical purposes. On the steamer journey from New York to Ireland, Sam, Joana and Bennett meet up with Philip, a classmate of Bennett's, and the four spend the trip chumming around, bickering and trying to decipher the message they found hidden within the diary. It is clear after someone breaks into Sam's room that the villains are still hot on their trail. Once the foursome arrive in Ireland the stakes get higher as they come into contact with even more individuals seeking the diary. It's a race against time as Sam and friends try to decipher the clues and prevent the baddies from summoning the Morrigan. This was a fun story. It took me a long time to read it, I'm not really sure why, but upon reflection I don't think it was the book's fault. I enjoyed watching Sam decipher the clues. It was nice to have a heroine use her mind as her number one weapon, versus a sword, gun or her fists. At times, I felt like the characters were a little lackluster, but overall, it was a compelling adventure. The ending definitely leads me to believe there may be further books in this world. I would definitely be willing to pick up more stories featuring Sam as a protagonist. While she did gain a lot of self-confidence over the course of this story, I think there is still so much more room for her to grow. If you are interested in ancient Celtic folklore, legends, archaeological artifacts, ciphers, books featuring books and mysterious orders, you should absolutely check this one out. It may be the perfect adventure for you! Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and hope to see more Samantha Knox in the future!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Moke

    ******UPDATE: CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN is now available on NetGalley and Edelweiss!! So if you're interested in my book-length ode to over the top archaeological adventures, go request your copy now!!********** Do you like: * The Mummy * Indiana Jones * National Treasure Do you wish they were all rolled into one story about a book-loving codebreaker, her childhood crush, and her reckless best friend trying to save the world from an ancient Celtic Curse?? Then have I got the BOOK for you (this one. I ******UPDATE: CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN is now available on NetGalley and Edelweiss!! So if you're interested in my book-length ode to over the top archaeological adventures, go request your copy now!!********** Do you like: * The Mummy * Indiana Jones * National Treasure Do you wish they were all rolled into one story about a book-loving codebreaker, her childhood crush, and her reckless best friend trying to save the world from an ancient Celtic Curse?? Then have I got the BOOK for you (this one. It's this one).

  3. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    a little underwhelmed by the cover tbh 😔 ✔ National Treasure x Indiana Jones x The Mummy ✔ Set in an antique bookstore in 1920s Ireland ✔ Full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action ✔ Childhood-best-friends-to-lovers ✔ Ancient celtic mythology Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram a little underwhelmed by the cover tbh 😔 ✔ National Treasure x Indiana Jones x The Mummy ✔ Set in an antique bookstore in 1920s Ireland ✔ Full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action ✔ Childhood-best-friends-to-lovers ✔ Ancient celtic mythology Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fifi | A Fairytale Dream

    WOW WOW WOW I LOVED THIS BOOK. I CAN’T. I CANNOT EVEN. WHERE TO EVEN START. The setting! The story! The characters THE CHARACTERS I LOVED THE CHARACTERS. I’ve had a string of so so Netgalley arcs lately and this was just the book I needed to pull me out of my weird book slump. I said this when I was 10% into the book and I say this now upon finishing it. The entire time reading this book, all I could think was what an AMAZING MOVIE this book would make. Holy shit. I mean, we have this mysterious WOW WOW WOW I LOVED THIS BOOK. I CAN’T. I CANNOT EVEN. WHERE TO EVEN START. The setting! The story! The characters THE CHARACTERS I LOVED THE CHARACTERS. I’ve had a string of so so Netgalley arcs lately and this was just the book I needed to pull me out of my weird book slump. I said this when I was 10% into the book and I say this now upon finishing it. The entire time reading this book, all I could think was what an AMAZING MOVIE this book would make. Holy shit. I mean, we have this mysterious cryptic diary, creepy villains breaking into an ancient bookshop in search of said diary and amidst the chaos, causing a glass lantern explosion making all the books light up like fireworks and the entire shop erupts into flames. And this all happens within the first 10% of the book. IT STARTS EARLY AND NEVER STOPS. None of that dumb nothing happening in the first hundred pages like most books seem to do. It hits the ground running so if super slow to start books are your pet peeve too, you won’t have a problem with this one. It gets the point! Right from the beginning, I instantly liked the main character Sam. She feels at home at the antique bookstore where she spends most of her time (same) and is fascinated by culture, archaeology, and literature. It’s refreshing to not have another YA main character who is overly brash, haughty, and aggressive with a horrible attitude. Which gives me the perfect segway to go into a mini rant AND I’M SORRY IF THIS IS LONG BUT I JUST FEEL REALLY PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS TOPIC: Why is it that every YA author thinks that a “strong” female mc should be the stereotypical sword wielding heroine who thinks she’s stronger than everyone else just because she doesn’t accept help from men? When has YA decided that femininity and softness and less aggressive characters are weak? Newsflash YA authors, we do not want any more of the “I will beat you up if you say hi to me” kind of female characters. We want EVERY type of female represented. Too many YA authors think that these callous type female characters are the strong women of the feminist age. I beg to differ. Softness is strength. Intelligence is strength. You can be shy and strong. You can be quiet and strong. You can be a socially awkward bookworm and be strong. You can be dainty and strong. You can love dresses and pearls and femininity and be strong. WHY DO MOST YA AUTHORS NOT UNDERSTAND THIS? The stereotypical strong on the surface abrasive female character (usually with a horrible attitude) is insufferable to me. Yeah you might be physically strong and brave, and maybe you think beating men up and besting them at everything makes you better than other softer women but is that the only way to show feminine strength? 🙄 THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING STRONG AND JUST BEING CALLOUS. This type of female character being the only representation of what’s considered a “strong” woman is insufferable. It’s extremely surface level. In their attempt to cater to the feminist age, the majority of YA authors have underrepresented an entire category of girls, and have told them they are “weak”. I beg to differ. Characters like Sam who are intelligent and thoughtful are stronger than over the top characters like Celaena (😷) will ever be. Outer strength and stereotypical sword yielding bravery is only strength on the surface. Why do most YA authors not get this? That being said, Joana was actually my favorite character. I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH JOANA. Girlfriend is so much fun; I cannot even. And the ending OH GOSH THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK WAS SO VISUAL. The last 20% is insane and I could not put it down. This book NEEDS to be a Netflix movie. ASAP. I need this to be a movie! I really hope this isn’t the last planned book for these characters because I absolutely need to read about more adventures, especially with my homegirl Joana. Now, I’m going to have to be a bit critical here. This was not a perfect read by any means (the villain behind it all was too obvious and very easy to guess, and some cringey dialogue; just being honest!) However, this story was so entertaining, so easy to visualize, and I can see how much hard work and research the author put into this. I simply cannot give this fewer than 5 stars. Thank you to Netgalley/Hyperion for sending me an arc in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Renaissance Kate

    ARC received!! So excited to read this Indiana Jones retelling! Thank you to Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eliza ☽

    A story about ancient relics and ciphers set in 1920s Ireland? WHAT NOBLE SACRIFICE HAS BEEN MADE TO THE BLOOD GODS FOR THIS GEM TO EXIST???

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Haas

    Jo is definitely wifey material! ❤️💜 My top three favorite movies of all time are: - National Treasure - The Mummy - Pirates of the Caribbean So when a book comes out that is two of my favorite movies wrapped into one amazing book then I’m fan-girling HARDCORE! The beginning even gave me an Orient Express vibe which was cool. This was SO much fun and fast paced! I loved the whole Celtic backgrounds and the hunting for clues which kept me on the edge of my seat! The romance was super cute, it wasn’t m Jo is definitely wifey material! ❤️💜 My top three favorite movies of all time are: - National Treasure - The Mummy - Pirates of the Caribbean So when a book comes out that is two of my favorite movies wrapped into one amazing book then I’m fan-girling HARDCORE! The beginning even gave me an Orient Express vibe which was cool. This was SO much fun and fast paced! I loved the whole Celtic backgrounds and the hunting for clues which kept me on the edge of my seat! The romance was super cute, it wasn’t my favorite enemies-to-lovers but it did the friends-to-lovers trope well. My favorite character had to be Jo!! I can’t decide if I want to be her or have a BFF like her. She is definitely a big part of what made this book so amazing!

  8. 5 out of 5

    laur gluchie

    I have received a digital Advance Reader’s Copy of this book through NetGalley. This has not affected my rating in any way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Oh man! Curse of the Specter Queen was such a fun adventure to dive into. I was honestly getting so many vibes while reading this. Some things reminded me of Artemis Fowl but then I also got The Mummy and Indiana Jones vibes at the same time. Which definitely made this even more interesting and the book was a complete page turner. In it, you will meet Sam. She was completely likable from the very first moment we met. She was I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Oh man! Curse of the Specter Queen was such a fun adventure to dive into. I was honestly getting so many vibes while reading this. Some things reminded me of Artemis Fowl but then I also got The Mummy and Indiana Jones vibes at the same time. Which definitely made this even more interesting and the book was a complete page turner. In it, you will meet Sam. She was completely likable from the very first moment we met. She was basically living the dream whenever she was within the walls of the antique bookstore. So it definitely broke my heart when it went up in flames due to some crazy assholes looking for a secret book. While that was tragic, she still found a way to be calm, strong, and smart throughout the book. Besides her, we do get to meet her best friend Joana who was also completely lovable. If I could, I would kidnap her for myself because she definitely made the book more fun for me. My heart did hurt when she was hurting though but I'm so happy that we got to meet her in this. We also get to meet other people but if I dive into every single one of them - the review will never end. All I'm going to say is that this adventure was wild from the start. I'm a little sad that the villain was a bit predictable but at the same time I didn't really care because I was just enjoying the actual book. It's rare but I just really did enjoy the entire thing. All the vibes I was getting definitely made me happy and I can't wait for the sequel to come out. Please be soon!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    Can I just say how much I love the idea of a female Indiana Jones? Like, I'd buy every book with the theme of an ancient curse, a clever and intuitive group of protagonists. When Sam Knox is given a strange diary to restore, she finds herself on the run from a group of men who burn down her bookstore. She escapes and finds, childhood crush, Bennett, and his sister Jo and together they decipher the diary to discover something much more dangerous than they imagined. What I loved: 1. The writing: Je Can I just say how much I love the idea of a female Indiana Jones? Like, I'd buy every book with the theme of an ancient curse, a clever and intuitive group of protagonists. When Sam Knox is given a strange diary to restore, she finds herself on the run from a group of men who burn down her bookstore. She escapes and finds, childhood crush, Bennett, and his sister Jo and together they decipher the diary to discover something much more dangerous than they imagined. What I loved: 1. The writing: Jenny Elder Moke has a way with words that should put us all to shame. I love her style and the voice of her characters. 2. The characters: all unique in their way and vital to the story. Sam is our main character, but we also get reckless Jo, her former friend, and crush, Bennett who I just wanted to squeeze. 3. The setting: 1920's Ireland! Ireland is one of my favorite places IN THE WORLD so being on this journey through some of the most wondrous areas I've visited was amazing. I could picture the train scenes in my head as a feature film and promptly swooned. Ugh, if only readers could vote on which books were made into movies. Sigh Everything about this book is perfect. The story is perfect. The characters are perfect. They now live in my head in their perfect state. Thank you Disney for the e-arc for the book tour and Netgalley for providing it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    3.5 stars You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books. This was a pretty good YA Fantasy book. There is also a mix of Historical Fiction and Mystery/Thriller in the book, so it's a bit hard to categorize. There is plenty of action, elements of mythology and magic, with a touch of romance thrown in. It's quite a mish mash. Samantha Fox is a young woman with plans of archeological adventures until her father dies during WWI. She now lives a solitary life running an antique bookshop, resto 3.5 stars You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books. This was a pretty good YA Fantasy book. There is also a mix of Historical Fiction and Mystery/Thriller in the book, so it's a bit hard to categorize. There is plenty of action, elements of mythology and magic, with a touch of romance thrown in. It's quite a mish mash. Samantha Fox is a young woman with plans of archeological adventures until her father dies during WWI. She now lives a solitary life running an antique bookshop, restoring and selling books. One day a mysterious damaged book appears and before she's had a chance to thoroughly examine it, some ruthless men appear intent on getting the book back. The bookshop is engulfed in flames and Sam, her former best friend and her schoolgirl crush set out on an adventure that will take them to Dublin, Ireland to stop an ancient order intent on raising the Specter Queen, who wants to wage war and destroy everything and everyone. The book is is a quick and easy read. There were a few places that dragged a bit, but it was a fun read. You definitely have to suspend belief when you read it because the group tends to solve problems just in the nick of time and easily squeak out of trouble without injury. Samantha was a fairly well-formed character, but the rest of the characters in the book were pretty one-dimensional, especially her crush. Despite evidence that Sam and her best friend (his sister) are quite smart and capable, he routinely scolds them for taking action and demands that it's his "job" to protect them and dictate their actions. That got old real quick. Because this is a YA book, the "romance" is very chaste and the violence is more inferred than explicitly described. Overall this is a fun, quick, easy read, but it's probably not one that you will remember a month after you read it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion. All opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Samantha Knox was resigned to her quiet life in the antique bookstore she ran. It wasn’t the adventurous life she dreamed of as a child as painful events stole her dreams, but the arrival of a mysterious diary could unravel a mystery she could only dream of solving, if she survives. CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN by Jenny Elder Moke is an incredible journey into a world of magic, mystery and mayhem that kept me glued to each page, and steeped in each scene! Rich in detail, filled with puzzles to solv Samantha Knox was resigned to her quiet life in the antique bookstore she ran. It wasn’t the adventurous life she dreamed of as a child as painful events stole her dreams, but the arrival of a mysterious diary could unravel a mystery she could only dream of solving, if she survives. CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN by Jenny Elder Moke is an incredible journey into a world of magic, mystery and mayhem that kept me glued to each page, and steeped in each scene! Rich in detail, filled with puzzles to solve, curses and unimaginable twists, I was at a loss to fill in the blanks myself! Fabulous writing that keeps each page alive, just a hint of romance and the true tests of friendships, this is a highly recommended read for young adults on up! I received a complimentary ARC edition from Disney Hyperion! This is my honest and voluntary review. Publisher : Disney Hyperion (June 1, 2021) Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Print length : 352 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  13. 4 out of 5

    queen of narnia

    Check out my objective, non-spoiler review of this book over on my blog, @ Novels and Nonsense: https://novelsandnonsense.home.blog/2... Actual rating: 4 stars (the more I think about this book, the more I love it) What a fun little book! When I heard the synopsis of this book, I knew immediately that I had to read it as soon as it came out. Turns out, I was able to finish it even earlier than that! That being said, many thanks to the publisher, Netgalley, and the author for providing me an eARC of Check out my objective, non-spoiler review of this book over on my blog, @ Novels and Nonsense: https://novelsandnonsense.home.blog/2... Actual rating: 4 stars (the more I think about this book, the more I love it) What a fun little book! When I heard the synopsis of this book, I knew immediately that I had to read it as soon as it came out. Turns out, I was able to finish it even earlier than that! That being said, many thanks to the publisher, Netgalley, and the author for providing me an eARC of Curse of the Specter Queen. I loved all of the elements of the premise of this story. The fact that it was supposed to be following in the footsteps of classic action-adventure movies like The Mummy, National Treasure, and Indiana Jones (but with a female lead) all drew me in! And while yes, this book had all of those wonderful elements, I do have to say that the execution of them was a little bit disappointing. The puzzles, action scenes, and adventure are all there, but I found that personally, they lacked the polish to truly shine like the movies might. That isn't to say that I hated this book. In no way did I. I still had one heck of an enjoyable time-- with the characters, the wonderful atmosphere and setting of the 1920s in all its grandeur, and the magnificent ciphers that I didn't really understand, but loved seeing the characters solve all the same. This book was really solid, and really enjoyable! It just didn't quite live up to the huge legacy that the synopsis made it sound like (which is a big ticket to afford in the first place if you get my drift). Still, this story was fun above all other things. I would totally read it again, it was such a wild ride of action, story, emotion, and each time that I picked this book up, I was completely wrapped up in the excitement of what was happening. I've never read a book like this before, with this kind of plot, and it was really refreshing. In fact, a lot of parts about this book was refreshing: -The main character, Sam Knox, was such a great strong female character. She was soft, kind, and had a personality to her. She was very relatable, and her love for books truly transcended the page. If you were a fan of Ophelia from the Mirror Visitor Quartet, you'll adore her. -It was really interesting to read a book, instead of watching a movie, on this concept! It didn't read too theatrically, but still provided you with enough detail so that you could see everything play out just like a movie would. This would make a fantastic movie, but it made a great book, too. -The writing was beautiful! You could picture everything ever-so-vividly, and the atmosphere of the setting combined with the writing was quite phenomenal. I wasn't a huge fan of all of the main cast, Sam definitely being my favorite character, but they weren't bad, either. Just what you would probably expect in a regular YA story. I did like their character development and relationships, though, they definitely grew throughout the course of the story. I wasn't the biggest fan of the love interest, but I can see the potential for him to be a swoon-worthy character in the future. He just came off as a big controlling in this book, too much so for my taste. There's lots of twists and turns in this story, but most of them were pretty predictable. The buildup and foreshadowing to it just fell a bit flat. That being said, the story was still incredibly enthralling and the quick-getaways and treasure-hunting elements really pulled me further into the story. Overall, this book was so clever and fun to read and it definitely was the fun, aciton-packed romp with cool characters and a show-stopping mystery that I signed up for. While it may not have lived up to its downright perfect synopsis, I hold no quarrel with that. I'm excited to see where this series goes in the future and very happy that I was able to read this book. — Re-read thoughts: -Upon further investigation, I will admit that rating this book 4 stars might be a bit high. It has a great synopsis, but the execution was really quite tedious, especially in the latter half of the book. The mystery elements didn’t really fit together the way they should, though it still provided a compelling plot. In certain parts, I was really confused as to how two or three of the clues fit together. -I did like Joana a lot more in this re-read, and found Bennett a lot more annoying. That being said, I do appreciate his character development in the end. -The characters’ relationships sometimes felt a little forced -I still love this crew of characters, and while this first book was quite messy but still enjoyable, I have hope that future sequels will get better. There’s so much potential!! Overall: not as great as I remembered it, but still just as fun!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    rose ✨

    “two days ago she was hanging laundry before the long walk to the bookshop; now she was bundled into a sleeper compartment with her estranged best friend and childhood crush, trying to decipher a two-hundred-year-old letter and find a missing relic to stop a ritual to raise an ancient god that would end the world.” set in the wake of world war i, curse of the specter queen finds samantha knox in the antique bookstore where she’s found shelter and stability since her father died in the war. th “two days ago she was hanging laundry before the long walk to the bookshop; now she was bundled into a sleeper compartment with her estranged best friend and childhood crush, trying to decipher a two-hundred-year-old letter and find a missing relic to stop a ritual to raise an ancient god that would end the world.” set in the wake of world war i, curse of the specter queen finds samantha knox in the antique bookstore where she’s found shelter and stability since her father died in the war. the arrival of a mysterious diary upsets the quiet life she’s built for herself, sending her on a whirlwind adventure from illinois to ireland with her ex-best friend and childhood crush. i wanted to love this—sam, jo, and bennett were a fun trio, the 1920s aesthetics were delightful, and bookish nerds falling in love is always cute—but the mystery was just so predictable and it wasn’t entertaining enough to make up for that fact. i saw every “twist” coming a mile away and there were so many plot conveniences. so many. they spent the entire novel being reckless and dumb, and then the clues just fell right into their laps anyway. it isn’t a bad story, just underwhelming. i think it might translate better on screen than it does on page, honestly. i received an arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. rating: 2/5 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    ☀︎El In Oz☀︎

    Edit January 12: Idk what to think of this cover. It’s not bad but not amazing Had me at Indiana Jones, aka the second best male film character ever(in my opinion). And also the best treasure hunting movie trilogy ever(the 4th movie doesn’t exist). Then you said The Mummy?! Another fantastic film, the first two are so so good👏🏼 And National Treasure?! Y’all my expectations are sky high , if the author manages to roll all 3 of these PERFECT movies together then it’ll be amazing. Please no love tria Edit January 12: Idk what to think of this cover. It’s not bad but not amazing Had me at Indiana Jones, aka the second best male film character ever(in my opinion). And also the best treasure hunting movie trilogy ever(the 4th movie doesn’t exist). Then you said The Mummy?! Another fantastic film, the first two are so so good👏🏼 And National Treasure?! Y’all my expectations are sky high , if the author manages to roll all 3 of these PERFECT movies together then it’ll be amazing. Please no love triangle tho, the only person who does them really well is Cassandra Clare.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Doleski

    Indiana Jones? I'm so in! Indiana Jones? I'm so in!

  17. 5 out of 5

    ★ Jeanette Trinidad ★

    spoiler-free review The whole concept of the book completely had me hooked. Indiana Jones but as a female with national treasure and the mummy combined? Yes please!!! Curse of the specter queen follows a teenage bookseller (Samantha) in Illinois who had started working there after she had lost her dad in the great war. Sam gets a package containing a diary, which people are after, causing her to flee Illinois for Ireland. It's not every day we get to see the Irish folklore in books and it was inc spoiler-free review The whole concept of the book completely had me hooked. Indiana Jones but as a female with national treasure and the mummy combined? Yes please!!! Curse of the specter queen follows a teenage bookseller (Samantha) in Illinois who had started working there after she had lost her dad in the great war. Sam gets a package containing a diary, which people are after, causing her to flee Illinois for Ireland. It's not every day we get to see the Irish folklore in books and it was incorporated wonderfully. While in Ireland, we read through a treasure hunt full of history and puzzles. Sam is determined to solve the puzzles with her intelligence and her friend. We are whisked into an adventure with riddles, mystery, and thrill. My reasoning for 4 stars was due to some confusion during reading on my part towards the end. Do I think you should read this book? Yes! This YA mystery is sure to interest you. ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are mine. EXPECTED RELEASE DATE: June 1st, 2021 REVIEWED: 2/21/2021

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rhys

    Thank you to Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Curse of the Specter Queen got my attention straight away in the description: 1920s archeological exploration in Ireland? Yes PLEASE. I am a huge sucker for any book that is described with historical aspects, especially in Europe. So this book grabbed my attention so fast and I’m so glad I got an ARC of it!! Curse of the Specter Queen follows in the POV of Samantha Knox, a teenage girl working at Thank you to Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Curse of the Specter Queen got my attention straight away in the description: 1920s archeological exploration in Ireland? Yes PLEASE. I am a huge sucker for any book that is described with historical aspects, especially in Europe. So this book grabbed my attention so fast and I’m so glad I got an ARC of it!! Curse of the Specter Queen follows in the POV of Samantha Knox, a teenage girl working at an antique bookshop after putting away her archeological adventure fantasies the day her father died in WW1. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam’s peaceful life is overturned. Ruthless men are intent on getting this diary from Sam, setting her, her best friend, and her childhood crush on a high stakes adventure to 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. Will Sam solve the ciphers needed to stop the Specter Queen? Or will the order succeed and end the world? The historical aspects of this book were my favourite by far. It’s very obvious that while Moke wanted to make Sam and Joana (Sam’s best friend) strong and independent women, she wove in the societal standards of the 1920s. That is what I really love in historical fantasies/mysteries: strong and independent women that still manage to follow societal roles, even though those roles were very misogynistic. It gives the very air of these books being set in historical times. Onto the characters: I love Sam, Joana, and Bennett. Their friendship is spectacular. Joana and Bennett are siblings, and it just adds onto the friendship aspect between these two and Sam. I love how awkward Bennett is whenever he is with Sam, rather it be alone or around other people. He is the definition of a boy who doesn’t know what to do with his feelings towards a girl. It’s so cute and it’s woven into the story so good. The plot itself is good. I do feel the first 70 pages were a little bit slow, but overall, the plot was great! I’d say it’s more medium-paced than fast-paced. The mystery aspect of it also really makes it great. Overall, if you are wanting a historical mystery sprinkled with archeological aspects, Curse of the Specter Queen is for you!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cindee

    I loved this book it was everything and more than what I expected I loved everything about this book from the mystery to the romance and the adventure and everything in between. I loved all of the characters but I loved Sam and Bennet their romance was amazing and also slow burn I loved Sam for love of books for one also for her strength of character and will. I also loved many of the other characters Joanna for one was an amazing character that was made any part of the story better. I really lo I loved this book it was everything and more than what I expected I loved everything about this book from the mystery to the romance and the adventure and everything in between. I loved all of the characters but I loved Sam and Bennet their romance was amazing and also slow burn I loved Sam for love of books for one also for her strength of character and will. I also loved many of the other characters Joanna for one was an amazing character that was made any part of the story better. I really loved how much Sam grew as a character from the beginning to the end as a much more confident and knows she wants in life girl. I loved the plot it starts with Sam at a bookshop repairing books goes to deliver a book somewhere a bookshop gets burned down and there is an adventure to be had with a trio of amazing characters that you root for the whole way through. So overall I loved this book will be reading more of this series when there is more.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mirta (secretlifeofapotterheadgirl)

    My archaeology degree will crumble and die, I will never complete my MA thesis but I NEED THIS BOOK NOW

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nikole Clow

    I’ve always wanted to read a book that had Indiana Jones vibes but had a smart, reliable, quirky female protagonist. Curse of the Specter Queen gave me all that and more. It’s an absolutely remarkable tale that will be a favorite for so many readers. Curse of the Specter Queen was just so much fun! I loved the adventure, the high stakes, the mix of magic in a world that thought it didn’t exist. It’s a fast paced read with a wonderful cast ensemble. It’s easily a book many will love and finish in I’ve always wanted to read a book that had Indiana Jones vibes but had a smart, reliable, quirky female protagonist. Curse of the Specter Queen gave me all that and more. It’s an absolutely remarkable tale that will be a favorite for so many readers. Curse of the Specter Queen was just so much fun! I loved the adventure, the high stakes, the mix of magic in a world that thought it didn’t exist. It’s a fast paced read with a wonderful cast ensemble. It’s easily a book many will love and finish in a day – trust me, it’s going to be difficult to put down. The wonderful yet dangerous adventure that the heroine and her friends journey on all starts when a mysterious package arrives with an old damaged diary. People intent on stealing the diary from Sam turn her once normal life into chaos and mystery, and sets the course for the whole book. Sam, her best friend, and her secret crush must work together to discover why so many people are after this diary before it’s too late. Samantha Knox is a clever and wicked smart protagonist. She’s resourceful in many ways and never steps down from a challenge, especially if that challenge involves solving a puzzle or going on a treasure hunt. And what a treasure hunt her and her friends go on. Though she’s still working through her grief since her father’s death, she refuses to give up on solving this mystery. I loved how this book explored what a strained friendship is like and how even though these two best friends had grown apart, they came together as if they’d been friends all along. Yes, there’s those intense moments where the past is brought up, but these two girls learn how to overcome all those obstacles and work on fixing a relationship that was broken. That’s how true friendship works, and these two are definitely friends until the end. Whereas Sam is more reserved, Joana is wild and free. Both of these independent women are such a fun duo, and really the epitome of friendship. And, of course, I cannot NOT talk about Sam and Bennett. Their relationship was so great to see. It’s just a sprinkle of romance in the first book, but it’s enough to set up an explosive love for the next book. I loved how these two were both pining for one another but neither would step up and tell each other how they felt. They are, without a doubt, perfect for each other. While Bennett just wants to protect Sam and his sister, Sam wants to save the world from a potential threat. Both are sometimes opposites of each other, but both bring out the best in one another. It was great seeing their relationship progress throughout the book. The writing and world building is absolutely spectacular. I loved all the history snippets and the puzzle solving. And I loved seeing a heroine who isn’t afraid of being smart and taking risks. Moke’s writing is the perfect mix of serious and fun, which is what helps bring this marvelous story to life. I really enjoyed how Moke incorporated the historical settings with a fantasy feel and still kept Sam and Joana independent. Moke made sure the females in this book were strong and fierce and I really enjoyed seeing that in this type of book. So, honestly, there’s not much I did not enjoy about this book – I loved every aspect of this story – the writing, world building, archeological aspects, flawed characters, relationships. Everything was just so well written; I absolutely cannot wait for the second book. I need more Samantha Knox books! Overall, I devoured Curse of the Specter Queen and I plan to do the same to the sequel. This is the type of book I’ve been waiting for and one I know many will enjoy! Curse of the Specter Queen is available today!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie - One Book More

    I was so excited when I heard that Jenny Elder Moke, author of Hood, started a new series. Then when her new book was compared to Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and National Treasure, I knew I had to read it. That’s totally what it reminds me of – a clever combination of all of those movies with a bit of Enola Holmes mixed in. Curse of the Specter Queen takes place in the 1920s and is steeped in history. After losing her father in the great war, Samantha gave up her archeological dreams. An expert at I was so excited when I heard that Jenny Elder Moke, author of Hood, started a new series. Then when her new book was compared to Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and National Treasure, I knew I had to read it. That’s totally what it reminds me of – a clever combination of all of those movies with a bit of Enola Holmes mixed in. Curse of the Specter Queen takes place in the 1920s and is steeped in history. After losing her father in the great war, Samantha gave up her archeological dreams. An expert at repairing books, Samantha’s life unexpectedly changes when a mysterious diary ends up at the shop. Her life is quickly endangered, and Samantha’s journey to figure out the significance of the book begins. Sam, along with her former best friend and her childhood crush team up in a whirlwind, international quest, which makes sense considering how often they solved puzzles and mysteries together when they were younger. With people chasing them and danger lurking around every corner, Sam, Bennett, and Joana must work together to solve the mystery. Sam, Bennett, and Joana are an interesting trio, each realistic and distinct. They all bring different strengths to the table, and they make a good team. At the start of the story, they are estranged and haven’t seen each other in some time. They aren’t on the best of terms, and it’s interesting to see how they work through their issues and learn to trust and work with each other again. Sam is so smart, curious, and observant, and she’s really good at solving puzzles. She has such a love of literature, archeology, history, as well as ciphers and puzzles, which helps her in her adventures. Her character also shows a lot of growth throughout the novel. At the start of the story, Sam is scared, anxious, and a bit insecure, but as the story progresses, her confidence grows. She becomes much more self-assured and empowered, and I love that. As I mentioned before, the story is steeped in 1920’s history. The treasure hunt also incorporates history, folklore, and puzzles, and I enjoyed the allusions. It’s such a fascinating aspect of the story! I like that Irish folklore and mythology had some prominence, as I’m not super familiar with it. These elements of the story really added so much to the setting, characters, and mystery. An archeological adventure with action, suspense, and the beginnings of a great romance, Curse of the Specter Queen is a fun read and a great start to a new series. I can’t wait to find out what Samantha Knox is up to next! Thanks so much to Disney-Hyperion, NetGalley, and Jenny Elder Moke for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Neide Gomes

    Yes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I. CANNOT. WAIT. Update: LOVED!!! Review to come

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meg K (fiction_gryphon)

    This story was such a fun ride! It has a sort of “Indiana Jones” meets “The Mummy” vibe, and I’m all for it! The characters were so lovable, the quips had me snorting aloud, and the action/suspense had me tightly gripping the binding of the book (sorry, book!) until the end. I can’t wait to see these characters again in the future!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mere

    this is one of those books I'm going to need to own. IT WAS EVERYTHING I COULD HAVE ASKED FOR this is one of those books I'm going to need to own. IT WAS EVERYTHING I COULD HAVE ASKED FOR

  27. 5 out of 5

    Allison (The Allure of Books)

    This book falls into one of my favorite genres: Books That Give Me The Mummy Vibes™

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pine Reads Review

    “She was not helpless, nor was she hopeless. She had knowledge and skills of her own. Skills she could use to help herself. To maybe even save the world.” When her father didn’t return from the Great War, cipher-solver Samantha Knox set aside her childhood dreams of becoming a famous archeologist and withdrew to work in an antique bookstore. She’s happy among her books, but everything changes when a mysterious diary arrives at the shop—along with two ruthless men intent on retrieving it. All of a “She was not helpless, nor was she hopeless. She had knowledge and skills of her own. Skills she could use to help herself. To maybe even save the world.” When her father didn’t return from the Great War, cipher-solver Samantha Knox set aside her childhood dreams of becoming a famous archeologist and withdrew to work in an antique bookstore. She’s happy among her books, but everything changes when a mysterious diary arrives at the shop—along with two ruthless men intent on retrieving it. All of a sudden, Sam is thrust into a mystery full of ancient relics, spine-chilling rituals, and a vengeful goddess bent on the destruction of the world. To stop the unthinkable from happening, Sam, her best friend, and her childhood crush must embark on a high-stakes adventure into the wilds of Ireland, solve an intricate cipher, and undertake a treasure hunt before time runs out. Will Sam save the day with her ingenuity and wit? Or will the world collapse before she can? With extraordinary characters, a sensational setting, and heart-stopping action, Jenny Elder Moke’s sophomore novel sparkles with adventure and mystery. Pitched as a female-driven Indiana Jones escapade, it’s clear that this will be the next big cryptograph-filled series. Set in the 1920s, Elder Moke does a fantastic job of constructing a historical fiction that feels absolutely real. From rural Illinois to the RMS Olympia to the green hills of Dublin, each setting is lush and vivid. The three protagonists contrast beautifully: a sensible academic, a reckless thrill-seeker, and a clever cryptologist. Solving the mystery with this trio is an unforgettable and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Fans of elaborate puzzles and races against the clock will love this fast-paced historical fiction. Content Warnings: Fire, sexism, some intense action sequences, some violence, murder, mentioned death of a loved one, human sacrifice, blood, possession (Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, author interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jen ♥Star-Crossed Book Blog♥

    ***4.5/5 Stars*** Curse of the Specter Queen was impossible not to devour in one sitting. The story brimmed with adventure, friendship and a sprinkling of romance. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come! If you’re a fan of books that are impossible to put down, characters with tons of heart and stories that play out like you’re watching a movie, then you definitely need to pick up this book! She had solved one puzzle only to find another. It beckoned her, laying out crypti ***4.5/5 Stars*** Curse of the Specter Queen was impossible not to devour in one sitting. The story brimmed with adventure, friendship and a sprinkling of romance. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come! If you’re a fan of books that are impossible to put down, characters with tons of heart and stories that play out like you’re watching a movie, then you definitely need to pick up this book! She had solved one puzzle only to find another. It beckoned her, laying out cryptic clues and drawing her in like a trap. Sam lived a quiet life in the 1920s restoring books until a damaged diary ended up in her hands. From that moment on, her whole life turned upside down. While trying to protect those she cared about, from men who would do whatever it took to get that diary back, Sam took off on an adventure of a lifetime with her childhood best friend and her best friend’s older brother. You guys!! This book was so much fun and a breath of fresh air. The story quickly picked up pace and there were some fun twists and turns as the story unfolded. I even jumped and screamed at one point. Be prepared to get pulled into this world and to not want to ever leave it! What if, instead of leading them to the answers, she was leading them to disaster? I adored Sam! She seemed so content living her quiet life surrounded with books, but there was so much more to her then meets the eye. As the story unfolded, we got to learn about her past and her love of solving puzzles and riddles. Sam was brilliant, clever and I loved how she persevered time and again. She refused to be stumped trying to decipher a two hundred year old letter and finding a missing relic. They discovered they had to stop a ritual to raise an ancient god that would end the world. But through it all, there were so many heartwarming interactions between her, Jo and Bennett. I loved the three of them together! “Like I used to say at the academy, good luck and don’t get caught.” Joana gave her a mock salute before disappearing around the side of the house. Joana aka Jo had been Sam’s best friend, but circumstances pulled them apart from one another. You could tell that they cared deeply for one another, so I loved watching them mend their friendship. And Jo, oh she was a blast and so much fun! I loved how adventurous Jo was and how she loved those around her fiercely. It was fun watching her help pull Sam out of her shell and seeing the two of them work together. Especially since Sam wasn’t afraid to take risks like “borrowing” cars lol or giving her brother, Bennett, a hard time or two. “Doesn’t she look fabulous?” Joana prompted, when no one had said anything for several long moments. “Like a vision,” Bennett said softly, the words slipping out before he could take careful stock of what they might reveal. Sam’s breath caught somewhere between her mouth and her lungs in a painful lump that got beaten about her chest by her rapidly thrumming heart. Bennett, eeps! I fell so hard and quickly for him. He tried his best to protect Sam and Jo, to send them back home to safety, but neither of them were having that! They joined Bennett on his quest to go visit his Professor in Ireland. And we got to see firsthand that while Bennett and Jo were extremely smart and worked seamlessly together, Sam usually one upped Bennett. I loved that! There’s so much more I want to say, but my lips are zipped! Bennett was right: to stay could be disastrous— it probably would be, if she was honest with herself. But she couldn’t leave . Not now. Not when she was so close to an answer. Not when the fate of the world might be at stake. Thievery, curses, friendship and adventure were sprinkled throughout the pages making this book impossible to put down! With magic, unknown enemies, and puzzles to piece together, this book was entertaining from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of movies like The Mummy, Indiana Jones or National Treasure then you definitely need to pick up this book! I’m so glad I did and now I can’t wait to go read Jenny Elder Moke’s other book, Hood! *I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* For more of my reviews, please visit:

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie P (Because My Mother Read)

    I listened to this as an audiobook. This was a fun read with a great premise and a likable main character, but with comparisons to Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and National Treasure I had my hopes set higher. I don’t want to be too picky since I know I am not the target age category, but I had a major twist figured out early on and it didn’t feel quite as gripping as I was hoping. I was also pretty annoyed at the male lead’s patronizing way of talking to the female lead. I understand that it is more I listened to this as an audiobook. This was a fun read with a great premise and a likable main character, but with comparisons to Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and National Treasure I had my hopes set higher. I don’t want to be too picky since I know I am not the target age category, but I had a major twist figured out early on and it didn’t feel quite as gripping as I was hoping. I was also pretty annoyed at the male lead’s patronizing way of talking to the female lead. I understand that it is more accurate for the time and she does push back against it, but it still bothered me to have in the romantic interest. I’ll have to wait and see if I feel like picking up future sequels, but I would definitely want to watch the TV show if that comes to be (I hear the rights have been optioned).

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