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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: June 1st, 2021

352 Pages


Samantha Knox put away her childhood 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! (Goodreads)

As soon as I read the premise for Curse of the Specter Queen I grew giddy with excitement. A female bookseller turned Indiana Jones? Count me in! After finishing this in one sitting I can definitively say it more than delivered.

The only reason why I’m not giving this a perfect 5 stars is because it took most of the book for Sam to find her footing. She dithers about almost everything: her feelings toward her childhood crush, Bennett, her relationship with her former best friend, Joana, her acceptance and confidence in her own abilities. She’s extremely insecure and second guesses herself frequently, and while I appreciated the reasons behind it, it grew a bit wearisome after a while. Slowly through the book though, she blossomed, and by the climax she became a force to be reckoned with. The romance between Sam and Bennett was sweet and slowly developed from friendship to something more. While Bennett’s alpha-male overprotectiveness was annoying at times, I liked that he believed in Sam right from the beginning. Joana, who Sam had become estranged for various reasons, came off as a vapid party girl at first, but showed she had hidden depths. She and Sam played well off each other.

Everything else in this book was spot on perfect. The time period of the Roaring 20s, combined with a thrilling quest to prevent a long thought dead sinister order, from raising a Celtic goddess of death and destruction was vividly brought to life. I could actually see this being played out as a movie in my head while I was reading. The setting of Ireland, land of myth and legend, was a wonderful choice for events to play out. The ending perfectly wrapped everything up, and left me utterly satisfied.

Overall Curse of the Specter Queen, is the epitome of a fun-filled popcorn book. I’ve heard that this is the first book in a planned series, which has me even more excited. I will be very surprised if Hollywood doesn’t scoop this up.