The Dark Prophecy: The Trials of Apollo, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Dark Prophecy: The Trials of Apollo, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
More action-focused sequel a win for Percy Jackson fans.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Having the Greek god of music, poetry, healing arts, prophecy, and plague as narrator takes the reader in a number of fascinating directions. Apollo complains that his mortal form makes him forget a lot, but we're still treated to tidbits on musicians and artists he says he's influenced (he claims to have discovered Pink working at a McDonald's and Queen Latifah at a Burger King), periods in history he's experienced (especially the time of the Roman Emperor Commodus), myths he's responsible for (making Hemithea, the daughter of King Staphylus, immortal), and more. The Roman Emperor Commodus is a major character here. Each chapter begins with a haiku (teaching about a form of poetry) and a prophecy delivered in a Shakespearean-style sonnet. There's a brief chemistry lesson where Apollo uses medical supplies to create an acid strong enough to destroy a door. A 13-page glossary entitled "Guide to Apollo-Speak" is included in the back.

Positive Messages

As in the first book, there's much to ponder on the damaging effects of absolute power, but here the cruel Emperor Commodus rather than Apollo demonstrates this more clearly. There's also much here on trust and betrayal and on what's worth giving up for a fulfilling and meaningful life. Much more minor but still notable: Everyone in the Waystation, guest or longtime occupant, does chores and contributes to growing and preparing healthy meals. Also there's much thought put into saving abused animals and finding them better lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Apollo's character improved greatly in the first book already. He's still conceited and proud at first, but he finds his humility and his willingness to help his friends, no matter the cost to him. When forced to face up to past mistakes and broken promises, he eventually takes responsibility for his actions instead of just chalking it up to being an all-powerful god who couldn't be bothered with mortal cares.


Arena fighting with exotic, tortured animals, cars, and an assortment of weapons causes injuries. Heads chopped off -- three of them for boring the emperor, and one brother cuts off another brother's head after he becomes trapped and crushed, all so they can't be implicated in a crime (the ghost of the headless brother is a minor character). Many skirmishes where mythological creatures get skewered by poleaxes, hit with arrows, blinded, killed in explosions, and more and then turn to dust. Some injuries that require magical healing including a broken hand and foot, bloody wounds from swords, and madness. One beloved animal dies in battle. Animals attack: a giant serpent, a pit of poisonous snakes, a swarm of bees. The mention that an elephant's partner was killed as punishment. People, including children, are kidnapped and held prisoner; two men go on a hunger strike. Flashback to one man choking another to death.


Some flirting, and a family with two moms depicted. Apollo remembers past loves, male and female, especially a relationship with the emperor. Apollo can't remember if a child is his. In Greek myth gods sired many children, and they could sprout from parents' heads or even from godly sweat on a handkerchief.


We learn the crude Greek word for "rear end": "gloutos."


A Magic 8 Ball plays an important role in the story. Mentions of stars (Beyoncé, Bill Nye), modern conveniences like Google, apps like Pokémon Go, Mercedes, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Talk of girls running away from a drunken father.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dark Prophecy is the second book in a series that's a spin-off of a Percy Jackson spin-off series. Did you follow that? The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series came first, then the Heroes of Olympus. It helps to read them both before digging into the Trials of Apollo series. The storyline picks up after the war at the end of the Heroes of Olympus, and many old favorite characters make cameos or are mentioned (yay, Leo!). And, for extra credit, reading the Apollo chapter in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods helps when our "suddenly mortal and very unhappy about it" narrator Apollo recounts key moments of his godly life. Like in the first book, there's a lot to learn about mythology and history, especially about the Roman Emperor Commodus' reign. The violence ratchets up a little from the last book thanks to arena fighting (with tortured animals -- blame Commodus), some beheadings (three simply because Commodus was bored), and lots of skirmishes with mythological creatures who cause injuries to mortals. For kids who dislike snakes, watch out for the giant serpent and the pit of poisonous vipers. For animal-loving kids, expect one sad animal death and a commitment by characters to take care of the mistreated animals.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycecelia32 June 16, 2020

Really guys?

Again, these parent reviews are just blatant homophobia. Its a really good book with lots of information about mythology and shows a lot of character developme... Continue reading
Adult Written bybynomith September 24, 2019

Could not finish

Honestly, I couldn't bring myself to finish this one. What other reviews don't tell you is that Apollo describes in great detail his physical attract... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMorgan66 June 21, 2019

Awesome book!!

This book was very good. Definitely made me want to read the next book in the series. I really enjoyed it. Not as funny as Apollo the Hidden Oracle but still ve... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySuppp July 25, 2017
This book is really awesome. But I recommend that kids should read the Percy Jackson series & the heroes of Olympus one too so they can really get it a... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE DARK PROPHECY, when Apollo, Leo, and Calypso land in Indianapolis atop their metal dragon Festus, they're greeted with an ambush. The streets are teaming with the minions of Emperor Commodus -- very strong creatures called blemmyae with faces in their chests. With the help of former Artemis hunters, they escape to the Waystation, a sentient building that houses an assortment of demigods, griffins, and the formerly immortal. Well, usually. When Apollo and friends enter, the many rooms are empty except for the ex-hunters Emmie and Jo. They explain that slowly Commodus had kidnapped everyone, including the griffins and Emmie and Jo's 7-year-old adopted daughter. They must be saved, and soon, and the throne of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, must be recovered or their friends will be forced to fight in the arena and their daughter will go mad. The multistep quest sounds hard enough, but to make matters worse, both the bloodthirsty megalomaniac Commodus and the oracle Trophonius have very old scores to settle with Apollo.

Is it any good?

If you like fighting mythological creatures and impossible quests that lead to more impossible quests and more fighting mythological creatures, you will thoroughly dig this sequel. By the end of the book you'll need the help of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, just to recall when Apollo and friends fought the giant serpent, when they were set upon by pits of smaller venomous snakes or weird creatures with faces below their armpits, or by Germani soldiers, or by helmeted fighting ostriches. It's all big fun, but it does blur together after a while.

There's less focus on character development here than in the first book, The Hidden Oracle, mostly because Apollo has already accepted his fate as a tortured mortal. His endearing relationship with Meg, his polar opposite, continues to develop on the sidelines of all the action. And the dedication of the ex-hunter couple Emmie and Jo to their mortal life as parents in the Waystation adds nice depth to the story. Blink, and you'll miss it, though. The Dark Prophecy is back to the action quicker than one of Artemis' Hunters can draw her bow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they learned from The Dark Prophecy. Who was Emperor Commodus? Who was the goddess Mnemosyne? What is a "yale"?

  • Apollo and Meg couldn't be more different. Do they make a good team? Why, or why not? Why do you think Apollo has come around to actually caring about Meg?

  • Will you read the next Trials of Apollo? What trials do you think come next? Who will be the next demigod you know from other Percy Jackson books to join Apollo on his quests?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and Percy Jackson

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