ARC Review: Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke

About the Book:

Title: Curse of the Specter Queen

Author: Jenny Elder Moke

Page Length: 352

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion


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!

LINKS:     Goodreads     |      Amazon    |      Book Depository

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My Review:

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.


Favorite Parts:

  • The characters.
  • The mystery and suspense.
  • The Irish folklore and mythology.


I think this is a great story for readers who like archeological quests with great characters, intriguing mysteries, and a lot of suspense.

7 thoughts on “ARC Review: Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one! I like the idea of it being compared to Indiana Jones and The Mummy!

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