Review: The Dark Prophecy

The Dark Prophecy is the new book in Rick Riordan’s The Trials of Apollo; the sequel to The Hidden Oracle. This review will contain spoilers for THO, but remains spoiler-free for TDP. If you haven’t read The Hidden Oracle yet, I urge you to go read it right now, and then come back. (Or maybe read Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes and Olympus first, if you haven’t already.) These are some of the best fantasy series for teens out there!

Goodreads synopsis: Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.

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My rating: 4 stars.

This one was better than the first book. Let me just start with that. I already loved The Hidden Oracle – Apollo is an amazing narrator and how could I not be happy with an openly bisexual protagonist in a children’s fantasy book? The haikus for chapter titles continue in The Dark Prophecy, which is another thing I love. They perfectly show Rick Riordan’s deadpan and occasionally absurd humour. This book also contained more lesser known monsters and deities from Greek mythology, which is always a plus for a mythology nerd like me (though it also makes me faintly jealous of Rick Riordan’s knowledge (I’ll just have to remind myself that he must have done a lot of research)). And of course we have some familiar faces from previous books set in the Percy Jackson universe, as well as a few incredible new characters. (For example (minor spoiler): an older lesbian couple, who left the Hunters of Artemis to be together, and their adopted daughter.)

What made this book top the previous one, though, was Apollo’s character arc. In The Hidden Oracle we found out about this series’ set of main villains – a Triumvirate of three ancient Roman emprerors. The first one was Nero (which I have mixed feelings about, but no one can deny he was far (very far) from perfect), and in this book we meet the second. I’m not going to say who, though you do find out about that rather quickly. He is a very interesting villain, however, mostly because of his past relationship with Apollo. Again, no spoilers from me, but let’s say it’s complicated. And rather dark, darker than I had come to expect from Rick Riordan. But I love it! Chapter 19 contains a memory of Apollo that gave me chills.

By now it’s obvious that mortality has changed Apollo as a person, and I wonder how that’s going to play out in the rest of this series. I admire how Rick Riordan has found a way to combine teen angst and more adult problems through a main character that is simultaneously an immortal god and a spotty teenager. Because of that, this series has an appeal for all ages (except those who really are too young).

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