The Serpent's Daughter
by Suzanne Arruda

Obsidian, 2008. ISBN 978-0-451-22294-7.
Reviewed by Sharon Wildwind
Posted on 02/05/2008

Fiction: Mystery; Fiction: Romance

What if Indiana Jones were a woman? No, this isn't about a spicy gender revelation, but rather a rip-roaring adventure set in North Africa in the 1920s. Jade del Cameron drove an ambulance in France during World War I. After the war, she went to Africa instead of returning to the United States. In this third book in the series—Mark of the Lion and Stalking Ivory are the first two—she travels to Morocco to attempt a reconciliation with her Spanish-born mother, Doña Inez Maria Isabella de Vincente del Cameron.

Things don't go well. Doña Inez disappears, Jade discovers a dead body, and she just might be hearing voices from hundreds of years ago. After Jade gets out of the Caves of Hercules, watch out. There are escapes and rescues from crumbling mansions, arduous journeys, wise women, slave traders, and mystical symbols in abundance. Jade is strong, smart, and an expert at using whatever comes to hand: at one point, a rather annoyed snake.

This is the kind of book I would have devoured at fifteen, or twenty-five. It is full of women. Women who regret. Women who reflect. Women who act. Women who keep secrets. Women who hold power. Women who are generous, selfish, silly, nefarious, and brave.

I admit to having a bit of trouble with the style at first. In fact, I had previously tried Stalking Ivory, and put it down after a few chapters. When I realized that the author had adopted a story-telling method to reflect the way stories were written in the 1920s, I fell in love with the book. I'm anxious, now, to go on to the other two in the series.

Suzanne Arruda has been fascinated with Africa and adventurers all her life. She read both fiction and biographies of adventurers from a young age, but even she admits that the closest she's gotten to wild animals is in her jobs as zookeeper, science teacher, and freelance writer. She loves the out of doors, and it shows in her books. You can find out more about her and her characters on her website.

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