The Smoke Hunter

Written by Jacquelyn Benson
Review by Rebecca Cochran

In 1898, archivist Ellie Mallory defies convention by holding a college degree, a job, and a fierce independence. One day at work, she stumbles upon a map to a city that she thought was only legendary. Ellie decides to embark on the adventure of her lifetime: travel to Central America to discover the truth – to find out if the city is a hoax or a real place. This, however, is not as easy as it sounds; especially when adversaries steal the map and attempt to get to the city first. Ellie soon realizes that she needs to partner with equally hard-headed archaeologist Adam Bates to get a head start on the race to the city.

Benson was clearly inspired by Indiana Jones when creating this story. Ellie and Adam encounter everything from bad guys with guns to capture, torture, and many different secret traps and hidden paths. The action is nonstop; in fact, at times, it seems as though Benson was in a race of her own to see how much adventure she could cram into one story.  With excellent historical detail, imagination, and imagery, this book delights. I was a little disappointed that Benson did not spend a more time with Ellie and Adam’s growing relationship, as that aspect of the story felt a little rushed. Nevertheless, adventure seekers won’t be disappointed with The Smoke Hunter. Recommended.