cover image The Secret Prophecy

The Secret Prophecy

Herbie Brennan. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-207180-4

Irish author Brennan (the Faerie Wars series) might be late to the post–Dan Brown conspiracy thriller craze, but he has no trouble using its tropes to create an enjoyable, exciting read. British teenager Em Goverton gets two major shocks in quick succession: the sudden death of his father and the overheard suggestion that it might have been murder. After a short vacation in France with a childhood friend and her family leads to additional suspicious events, Em returns home to find his mother institutionalized and their house ransacked. Em’s attempt to evade corrupt social services workers takes him to a homeless shelter and a helpful man named Victor; from there, the apparent conspiracy surrounding his father’s work on the history of Nostradamus leads to a familiar amalgam of prophecies, global travel, betrayal, and requisite over-the-top plot twists. Brennan capably juggles these threads and more by focusing on Em’s believably innocent and grounded narrative voice. Realism takes a backseat to action, but it’s unlikely that readers will be complaining. Ages 10–up. Agent: Sophie Hicks, Ed Victor Literary Agency. (Nov.)