Wednesday, September 21, 2016

THE SMOKE HUNTER by Jacqueline Benson

Publisher:     Grand Central
Published:     September 13, 2016
ISBN:        978-1455569069
Genre:       Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format:     Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Caught between being a woman of her time and her dream of exploring the world as an archaeologist, Eleanora (Ellie) Mallory isn’t surprised to find herself in her boss’s office about to be fired. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with her job as an archivist but it did give her an opportunity to at least see some interesting objects. While she waits for him she cannot help herself but to glance through his rather messy desk. There she finds a very old psalter.  Unable to help herself she pockets the book and takes it with her when she leaves.  Inside the book she finds two very intriguing objects—a very old medallion and a map. Before she can delve too deeply into the mystery of the psalter two men arrive at her home—two men who want what she found and took.  Two men who will stop at nothing to get those objects.

Not one to sit around and let life pass her by, Ellie first hides the treasures and then leads the men on a merry chase through London’s streets. Knowing they may catch her at any moment she heads to what she knows will be a safe haven—her friend Constance’s home.  There Constance helps Ellie to leave not just London, but to head to where she believes the map will lead her.  In short order it takes her on the adventure of a lifetime.

When I saw the blurb for Jacqueline Benson’s THE SMOKE HUNTER I had to read it.  You don’t often find fiction around the Maya or Aztecs and a good historical fiction always grabs my attention. Parts of the book were major page turners.  Others, not so much.  I never warmed up to Ellie—the character had so much potential with her educational background.   She was more annoying than spunky and for someone who was supposed to be smart, even confined by the times she lived in, she did some pretty stupid things. There was a lot of bogging down with minutiae about things that just did not move the story along. 

The book is billed as fiction—I would take it a step further to say it is also a good choice for a young adult read.  The writing and characters are ideal for a teen and may well inspire some great careers for young women who may read it.

I did enjoy the discussions about Mayan and Aztec cultures. We know so little, but Benson brings that knowledge to the pages of THE SMOKE HUNTER in easy to understand language and leaves you wanting to know more.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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