I’m really excited about Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, because… Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones? Yes, please!
GoodReads Summary: A legendary ghost, an ancient treasure, a mystery only Samantha Sutton can solve.
What happens when Indiana Jones meets Nancy Drew? You get Samantha Sutton, twelve year-old archeology buff with sharp wit and an insatiably curious personality. SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES is the incredible page-turner about a young girl from California who is given the chance to follow her archeologist uncle to the excavation of an ancient Peruvian temple.
What she doesn’t expect, though, is the legend haunting this ancient site. When important artifacts begin to disappear overnight, Samantha must navigate the disapproving eye of her uncle’s acerbic assistant, the bungling boyishness of her annoying big brother, and the ever-present stories swirling among the locals of the hysterical spirit that wanders through the town late at night. Using her keen sensibility and her knack for mapping the unknown passageways of Chavín de Huántar, Samantha uncovers a mystery far bigger than she could have ever imagined. This is a novel for children (and adults!) who love history, mystery, and heart-stopping plot-twists.
I found Sam’s Uncle Jay to be an interesting character. He’s maybe not the most responsible adult and I think he puts Samantha in some awkward situations, but her relationship with her parents is just as complicated. Both relationships feel real and I really appreciated the shades of grey with all of the characters. There were some nice people who turned out to be bad and some nasty people who turned out all right in the end and everyone else fell somewhere in the middle. Nobody was exactly what they seemed.
Plot/Pacing: There is a lot of space devoted to Sam’s archaeology expedition, but it ties into the mystery, and I thought it was really cool. I liked reading about what happens on a site and, honestly, if 12-year-old me had read this book, I might have had a different major in college. I guessed the bad guy very early on, so it stressed me waiting for Sam to figure it out, but I had fun watching Sam solve the mystery and enjoyed the build up to the climax.
Moments I Loved: There are so many fun, scary, cute, moments in this book, but I think my favorite part is in the author’s note, where Jacob’s says that “the archeologists who actually work in Chavin are far, far more competent than their fictional counterparts.” I loved them as characters, but yeah… they are pretty irresponsible, so the comment made me laugh.
WTF Moments: Sam sees dinner being made one night… guinea pigs. As if that weren’t bad enough, we get to hear about them being gutted and fried up… could have done without that image.
Overall: I can’t wait until my niece is old enough for me to read this with her. I will definitely be checking out Sam’s next adventure.
**I received an e-galley of Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies from the publisher through NetGalley. I was in no way compensated for my review or participation in the blog tour. All opinions expressed here are my own. Feel free to check out my full FTC Disclaimer on my About This Blog page.**
Jordan Jacobs’ love of mummies, castles, and Indiana Jones led to his first archaeological excavation at age 13 in California’s Sierra Nevada. He followed his passion at Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge and through his work for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, and UNESCO. His love of travel has taken him to almost fifty countries, and his work at Chavín de Huántar inspired his first novel,SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES. He now works as senior specialist at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
I asked the author, Jordan Jacobs, to share ten of his favorite places. I love travelling and want to do more, so I’m so glad I get to share his list with you. And the setting of his book is totally on this list!
JORDAN JACOBS GUEST POST:
I am really, really grateful to have been able to travel as much as I have—more a series of lucky circumstances than something to be proud of. But I’m terrible at picking favorites. The list below represents ten of the many places that continue to resonate for me, and are not in any meaningful order:
Ouidah is perhaps the most foreign place I’ve visited–relative to my day-to-day life back home. Known as one of the major surviving centers of voudou culture, Ouidah reveres the serpent deity, Dangbe. A local temple houses dozens of pythons…during the day. At night the snakes are released to slither into town and hunt for food.
Galta, Jaipur, India
Outside bustling Jaipur, the stunning Monkey Temples of Galta are best visited at sunset, when thousands of screaming monkeys descend on the sacred, spring-fed pools. These guys took full advantage of their exalted status, and climbed all over me as I may way up the canyon’s ancient stairways.
Kbal Spean, Cambodia
Outside the tourist hive of Angkor Wat, the site of Kbal Spean attracts a much smaller crowd. After a wet slog into the Kulen Hills and through an active minefield, I reached the glistening riverbed, carved centuries ago with a partial pantheon of Hindu gods.
Chaco Canyon, NM, USA
Atop the dry Colorado Plateau, and reached only by a pitted, rocky road, the Ancestral Puebloan ruins of Chaco Canyon are among the most well-studied in Native North America. And for good reason. This was the center of a major empire, with trade routes extending all the way west to California and as far south as Guatemala. One ruin, Pueblo Bonito, was among the largest buildings on earth at the time of its use. And the haunting nighttime calls of coyotes around my tent only added to the ambience.
Some miles north of its better-known neighbor, the great stone circle of Avebury is best seen from above. Questions about its original function are just as captivating as the early explanations for its use: that it was the work of traveling Native Americans, or Giants, or the burial place of Arthur and his knights. My visit paired nicely with a cider and fish’n chips from the adjacent two-hundred-year-old pub.
It’s exactly what I expected it to be, but more so. Soviet monuments loom high over shiny new shopping centers chandeliers glitter above the subway platforms, and Lenin himself lies in the center of it all–his waxy corpse still on view.
Istanbul’s sites are as thrilling and diverse as its history. Romans ruins? Check. Crusader churches? Yep. Ottoman fortresses? Yes, those too. Nothing has done more to shift my understanding of the ancient world as the sight of Viking graffiti in an ancient church-turned-mosque.
With its grand plazas, pyramids, ballcourts, and stunning ancient bridge, Aguateca is everything I’d want from a Mayan site. But getting there was the best part. I hired a business-minded eleven-year-old to take me deep into the jungle, piloting his boat along the swirling Rio Pasion.
Pompeii had dense ash to protect it. Herculaneum had a thick layer of volcanic ash. The Roman site of Dougga has somehow survived without. The whole city still spills out across the rolling hills of northern Tunisia, complete with a towering temple, a multi-story bathhouse, and the spectacular mosaic floors Roman Africa was known for. I should’ve arranged my transportation beforehand for the trip back to Tunis…it was a long, long way to hitchhike.
Chavin de Huantar, Peru
I’ve spent lots of time insisting that archaeology is nothing like Indiana Jones. Chavin de Huantar poses a problem in that regard. Its thrilling mix of massive temples, unexplored tunnels, bats, bones, and the strange and ancient mechanisms cry out for an adventure story. So I wrote one. Chavin is the setting of “Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies.”
Guys! Steph again. You don’t understand how much I love this post. I think if I had to pick one place from this list to visit it would be Moscow… or maybe Istanbul…. seriously, all of these places sound good. And now I know what to do so I don’t have to hitch hike back from Dougga. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?