Percy St. John and the Chronicle of Secrets

Written by E. A. Allen
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Percy St.-John, son of an Anglican vicar, is tragically orphaned at a young age in England in 1906.  With no family members willing to claim him, Percy’s future looks dim. Five years later, at the age of 15, he finds himself as a lay-brother in a Benedictine monastery in Switzerland. His best friend, also an orphan, is Gabriel, a young monk, who has a delightfully eccentric guardian angel named Timothy.

The monastery, which is widely regarded as a holy place, attracts many pilgrims who visit to gain solace. One of these is Elizabeth, a teenage French girl with a crippled leg and a formidable personality. Even at fifteen, Percy has numerous skills, although some of them are acquired through dubious means. He, like the monastery itself, also holds a few mysterious secrets. When Percy finds himself accused of stealing an ancient and legendary book hidden in the monastery, he must prove his innocence. The three young people and the guardian angel undertake a dangerous and cryptic mission to find the book and learn its secret.

This young adult novel is a highly intriguing mystical detective story. Thematically similar to Harry Potter, Percy’s story is more interesting, humorous, and intelligent. Suspense abounds, and the reader must decide which of the numerous peripheral characters might be saints, demons, or simple brigands in disguise. Supernatural creatures appear here and there along with medieval and ancient historical anecdotes, enhancing what is already a great tale. Strongly recommended.