Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman living a quiet life in a bookshop after the loss of her father finds her world turned upside down after receiving a mysterious diary that leads her in a race to stop an ancient order hellbent on bringing a war unlike anyone has ever seen in author Jenny Elder Moke’s “Curse of the Specter Queen”. 


The Synopsis


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!

The Review

A thrilling adventure that blends the action and historical aspects of Indiana Jones with the emotional storytelling of the YA genre, this book excels at highlighting the historical fiction aspect that has made archeology the perfect pairing with action and adventure. As a longtime fan of history and culture, I loved the exploration of Ireland, namely things like the Druids and Morrigan. The blend of history with fantasy and sci-fi elements made this story feel both classic and fresh all at once.

The character development in this book is the heart of this story. From protagonist, Sam and her evolution from an emotionally scarred bookkeeper into a strong and resilient hero was fantastic to see unfold. While her relationships with her allies and against her enemies were powerful in so many ways, it was her friendship with Joana that really stood out to me. The contrast in these characters and their personalities and the evolution they undergo both emotionally and physically solidified the stakes of the novel and the hope their friendship brought Sam in order to face these threats head-on.

The Verdict

An adventurous, entertaining, and hauntingly-good action and historical fiction YA read, author Jenny Elder Moke’s “Curse of the Specter Queen” is a must-read book of 2021. The perfect blend of action, history, and fantasy, the story itself instantly draws readers in, and the characters are both relatable and inspiring to see tackle this narrative, making this the perfect summer YA read. Be sure to pick up your own copies today!


About the Author

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Her debut novel, HOOD, about the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marien, will release from Disney/Hyperion in Spring 2020.


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