The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan brings us back to the world of Percy Jackson, but this time our hero is a god-turned-mortal named
About ‘Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle’
After crash landing in a dumpster with no memories as to why he’s been turned mortal, Apollo must navigate New York City’s streets in order to track down a familiar ally: Percy Jackson. Helping him is Meg, a strange and feisty little girl with surprising abilities. But making it to Camp Half-Blood is the least of Apollo’s worries. Something big is stirring behind the scenes, and unless he can figure out how to get his divinity back, they may all be doomed.
‘The Hidden Oracle’ book review
As a long-time fan of Rick Riordan’s books, there’s always a teensy bit of trepidation when I pick up a brand new series. Will it feel familiar enough that it’ll make me laugh and cry and cheer like I did when I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians for the first time? Will it be different enough that it won’t feel repetitive in comparison? Will we see familiar faces we fell in love with a decade ago? Will we meet new characters that we get to fall in love with for the first time right now?
In regards to The Hidden Oracle, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “Yes!” Apollo is no Percy Jackson, which may actually be a good thing. After spending so much time with Percy, we’re inexorably tied to him and his bright future. We’re always going to want more, but by keeping him tantalizingly out of reach, it makes his cameos even more exciting, and it allows the story to focus on characters who haven’t had as much time in the spotlight.
The Hidden Oracle begins six months after the end of The Blood of Olympus, when Apollo, God of Being Fabulous, is reduced to Lester Papadopoulos, mere mortal. Apollo is, as you may remember, horrifically self-absorbed, but as the story unfolds, the depth of humanity inside of him quickly becomes apparent. I’ll admit to crying over characters like Nico and Leo and Percy (and Bob) in the Heroes of Olympus series, but those tears only came after spending about a thousand pages with them. Imagine my surprise when I found myself choking up over Apollo right from book one.
This book is, without a doubt, a Rick Riordan classic, but with a twist. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud at the jokes and leaning forward in your seat at the plot twists, but aside from it already feeling comfortably familiar, Oracle also happens to be completely different. For the first time our narrator is a god, not a demigod. Gods have long played critical roles in these series, but never before have we gotten such an inside look at what it’s like being divine. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, actually.
This book also makes room for old favorites. Even if we don’t see everyone in The Hidden Oracle, we get an update on what they’re all up to. Better yet, when we do meet those older characters again, it’s a delight to drop in on their lives, knowing they’ve been busy staying alive since the last time we’ve heard from them. I don’t want to give away too much here, but suffice it to say that even a few minutes with fan-favorite characters feels like a weight has been lifted off my chest.
Riordan constantly works to fill and expand the universe of his books. Not only does he bring up Camp Jupiter, but there’s a reference to Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard as well. It reminds us that, yes, these books are all connected, even if only by the thinnest of threads. There’s also a great paragraph about what else may exist out there — but don’t get your hopes up just yet. Riordan has said time and time again that he loves writing books about mythology, but with all the different possibilities, it can be quite overwhelming for one person to tackle them all. For now, bask in the glory of every new peek we get outside of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology, even if it is fleeting.
But the mythology isn’t the only aspect of Riordan’s books that are diverse. You’ll meet a whole slew of new characters from all around the world, speaking all sorts of languages. Riordan is an advocate for diverse books, and it really shows in this novel. Not only does he flawlessly incorporate multiple nationalities and ethnicities into Camp Half-Blood’s dynamic, but LGBTQ+ topics are addressed on more than one occasion with a refreshing directness that may feel a little heavy-handed to adults but will hopefully lead to many open discussions with and amongst the children reading this book.
But these are just delicious appetizers compared to the main course that is the plot. Drawing from elements found in both the first and second Percy Jackson series, Riordan creates a villain that may not seem more dangerous than Gaea at the moment, but has been biding its time before it strikes. Sometimes your greatest enemy is not the one who brandishes his strength, but who relies on his smarts.
These books have always woven history in with the mythology because the two have been closely linked for thousands of years, but The Hidden Oracle finds a way to make the past feel tangible. It’s a brand new threat and a clever way for Apollo to learn the lessons as a mortal that he couldn’t understand as an immortal. The story is still about gods and men, but the tables have certainly turned.
Perhaps I am biased, having invested so much time in this series already, but I’ve found The Hidden Oracle to be another smash hit in a long line of fantastic novels set in this universe. The gods have answered for their past mistakes and promised to do better, especially by the end of the Olympians series, but never before has the lesson felt so personal. Seeing Percy Jackson from a former god’s point of view is both hilarious and enchanting, and in fact, seeing the world in this way makes me realize that while the gods have always been a somewhat aloof and menacing force, they have faced love and loss just as much, if not more so, than our mortal heroes.