Praise for Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies:
"Suspenseful."Time for Kids
A secret society, a lost fortress, a precious artifact only Samantha Sutton can protect.
Twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton isn't sure she wants to go to England with her Uncle Jay, a brilliant, risk-taking archeologist. But the trip seems safe enougha routine excavation in Cambridgeand Samantha has always had a love for the past.
At first the project seems unremarkablejust a survey to clear the way for a massive theme park. But everything changes when Sam uncovers something extraordinary. Are the local legends true? Is this the site of the ancient fortress belonging to Queen Boudica, the warrior queen? What treasures might be found?
When others begin to learn of her findings, Samantha senses she is in danger. Can any of her friends be trusted? Samantha will need to solve the mystery of the site in order to protect herself and let the world know of her remarkable discovery.
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|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
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England. Samantha Sutton risked a glance through the train window and up at the overcast sky. In the panic of her escape, she hadn't factored in the early northern sunset. Now, in midwinter, it was dark by five most evenings, and on a day like today, the covering of clouds could snuff out the sun as much as an hour before.
There were maybe fifteen minutes left of daylight, she figured, and still forty miles between her and the great cathedral city to the south. All of her journey would be in the dark. And most would be at a run.
She took a long, deep breath as the train ground to a stop and held it until the doors groaned open. Could he have followed her here? Would he be waiting, just outside? She put her head through the open door for a look up and down the platform, and for a second-then two, then three-she was exposed to all who passed by. But a chime and a recorded voice warned her of the train's immediate departure, and she had no choice but to step outside.
She felt her muscles clench, ready for hands to close around her throat or to rip her precious backpack from her shoulders. But nothing happened. No one even turned to look at her. The thin crowd just pushed by, indifferent. Threading between the last of the passengers and through the station of glass and steel, she allowed herself a little hope. Maybe she'd lost him, after all.
She stepped out into the January evening as gloomy Swindon began its slow shuffle home. Her fear could keep the cold away, but not the wet. The snow that showed in the light of the streetlamps had an intensity that surprised her, until she realized that her royal blue raincoat was already flecked with white, and melting snow was seeping through her jeans. She reached behind her to make sure the backpack was cinched all the way closed. The bag was so streaked in mud that the stripes and bars of its Union Jack design were only barely discernible-the red, white, and blue merged to mottled dun. But tacky as it was, the backpack was well made and would shield the object it contained during the long night's journey ahead. She pulled the bag higher on her shoulders and hurried into the shadowy city streets.
She knew she couldn't afford to look lost. A disoriented twelve-year-old girl-especially one of her small stature-would attract concerned attention, questions she couldn't answer, long-distance calls to her parents in California, and the involvement of police. Any delay would be catastrophic. No one would be able to protect her from the man who hunted her now.
The first close call came only minutes into her journey. She passed a pub, bustling with evening commuters, and the burly clientele who had spilled out onto the sidewalk to smoke. Samantha shouldered her way through and all fell silent, their eyes pinned on her backpack.
And no wonder. The bag would have been noticeably heavy to anyone who saw it, the way it arched her back and slowed her pace. But it was what pressed outward through the bag's dirty canvas that attracted the men's attention. The light streaming from the pub drew out the contours so anyone could guess at what she carried. There were the big ears, there the professorial brow, and there the sharp Roman nose. A close look would have even revealed the loops of hair, cropped short, as slight ridges beneath the fabric. It was, essentially, just what it looked like: a severed human head.
"Oi!" cried someone through the pooling cigarette smoke. "What's that you've got there?"
"Didn't you hear me, love? I asked you a question."
But she just pulled the straps tighter and increased her pace, her heartbeat thudding behind her eyes.
She did not slow until she was free of the city center, when the clusters of grim apartment towers gave way to open parkland. The snow had eased enough to make out the motorway in front of her-the M4-and just beyond it the moonlit fields of Wiltshire. Here, at last, she could pause to orient herself.
She fished her notebook out from beneath her jacket, where it hung from her neck by its knotted length of twine. The map she'd torn from the atlas told her to go almost directly south-through Wiltshire's fields and downs and its ancient, sacred groves. She would pass through villages with storybook names like Upavon, Countess, and Longhedge-names that on any other journey would conjure a smile to her face and a desperate need to rush to the library and research their origins. But not tonight. While she may have lost her pursuer in London some hours before, he had surely guessed her destination and was likely racing to intercept her somewhere ahead.
Still-she tried to convince herself-that was tomorrow's concern.
An overpass spanned the motorway ahead of her. She hurried toward it.
The voices startled her so much that the backpack slid from her shoulders. Two figures emerged from the shadows some feet away. They were police officers-one man, one woman-each garbed in a fluorescent yellow vest. Part of her wanted to turn to them, confess everything, and beg for their help. But there was too much at stake. And they wouldn't be able to protect her, even if they tried.
She was about to break into a run when they caught up with her, flanking her one on each side. As innocently as she could, Samantha shielded the backpack with her body.
"What are you doing out here?" the female officer asked. "Not a nice night for a walk."
Samantha knew not to say anything. Her pale freckled skin, slight elfin features, and dark brown braids were not out of place in this part of the world, but her accent would immediately identify her as a foreigner.
"Miss?" the man said, taking off his cap. "Are you lost?"
"Come on, then," said the woman, stooping to Samantha's level. "It's cold tonight, and more snow is on its way. Can't we give you a lift?"
Samantha forced a smile. She knew she would have to respond.
"Oh, I can make it on my own," she began, trying to avoid any telltale American "r's." "I'll be okay."
The officers looked at each other. It hadn't worked.
"Sounds like you might be very far from home, indeed," said the man.
He turned to his partner.
"Better call this in."
But just as the policeman unclipped his radio, and just as the policewoman reached out to comfort her, something stopped them short. Pounding footsteps, at a run.
Samantha felt the evening's chill. So he had found her, after all. He had tracked her like an animal all the way from Cambridge, across busy London, then through Swindon's darkened streets. He had stalked her all this way, waiting for her to enter the frozen countryside where she would be vulnerable and exposed. Here he would reclaim what she had stolen and exact his revenge.
"Keep her there!" came the deep, familiar American voice. "Don't let her get away!"
The moment of confusion was enough. Samantha twisted free. And then she ran, fixing her eyes on the overpass ahead, her heavy backpack slowing her steps through the deepening snow.
"Grab her!" cried the voice. "That's my niece!"
Now Samantha broke into a painful sprint, her lungs sucking in the frozen air. There were cries behind her, orders to stop, and then muffled sounds of struggle. But it wasn't until she sped up the icy ramp and reached the bridge's midpoint that she risked another look back.
From above the sparse and speeding traffic, she saw the officers writhing in the snow. With horror, she noted that her pursuer had slowed his chase. Samantha could not make out his features in the darkness, but his muscular shadow was well defined in the pool of a streetlight, black against a patch of snow. There was nothing left to stop him. Now he could take his time.
"It's hopeless, Samantha," said the voice, hoarse from yelling. "You don't have a chance."
She feared that he was right. The weight on her back now seemed impossibly heavy. She stopped, ready, almost, to hand over the bag and accept whatever retribution he had in mind.
But then something cried out from deep inside her.
Boudica. For Boudica.
And she began to run again despite herself, deep into the cursed English night.
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What I expected from this book isn’t what I got, but still it was an enjoyable and interesting story. I expected something in the lines of Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones; loads of danger, adventure and mindboggling new discoveries. It does have a hint of danger, adventure and a handful of interesting discoveries, but not as much I was hoping there would be. Nonethelees, this is after all a novel aimed at middle grade readers and I expect they would find this a uniquely adventurous read. The story is off to a slow start and only picks up somewhere around the middle. The last part towards the ending is quite suspenseful. The characters and world-building was done exceptionally well and I especially enjoyed the Inceni Society’s antics and mischievousness. However, I felt that the Warrior Queen’s story being told by way of Samantha’s dreams was a bit of a cop-out. It should’ve been in the form of a conversation between Samantha and any of the other characters, and not a dream. I haven’t read the previous Samantha Sutton novel, so I can safely say that this one can be read as a stand-alone. References are made to the previous book, and though it tickled my curiosity as to the events that took place in the first Samantha Sutton novel, I didn’t feel like I missed out on any important details. Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen is an engaging read filled with interesting archaeological tidbits which I’d recommend to all Middle Grade readers. It’s a book that will be enjoyed by both boys and girls.
Foreign lands, mysteries, discoveries and being at the center of making things right, Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queenby Jordan Jacobs is one of those middle grade reads that has appeal for all ages! Imagine being a young girl with the opportunity to participate in an archeological dig surrounding the mystery of an ancient warrior queen, Boudica! Samantha is a strong character and role model with a mature outlook and an inquisitive mind that sometimes gets her into more trouble than she bargains for, but she handles it well, no whining, just determination and a thirst for learning the truth. Jordan Jacobs has built a world that feels real, weaving facts with fiction, and a healthy dose of mystery and adventure for his characters who pull some “real life” antics. The descriptions of the dig, the site, and Samantha’s role come alive in a way that brings an air of excitement to each page. No dry descriptions here, but a magnetic mental scene, on down to the dust, the creaky bikes for her brother and her. Of course, there must be conflict and quirky characters and those who are not what they seem, but the unraveling of the story is a journey filled with rich detail and an opportunity for a younger reader to hitch a ride along with Samantha as she puzzles out what is really going on. Its adventures like these with that touch of realism that helps to make readers out of middle grade students. I received an Arc edition from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in exchange for my honest review.