Secret of the Oracle: An Ancient Greek Mystery

Written by Saviour Pirotta
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

Classical Greece, 510-323 BC. In Saviour Pirotta’s second Greek Mystery, the Mystery Solvers, Nico, scribe to the poet and playwright Ariston, and Thrax, Ariston’s personal slave, are on the road to Delphi to see the famous oracle. Delphi is supposed to be a peaceful place, but when a farmer’s daughter goes missing, and Thrax and Nico are beaten up, the friends realize that something serious is going on.

Selene, the missing girl, who longs to become a priestess at Delphi, visits the seer, Kessandra, in her cave; a merchant is in Delphi to find a stolen ring and restore it to its rightful owner; a local bully, Belos, is involved in something unsavoury; and Abantes, the newly-arrived priest at the temple at Delphi is, perhaps, not quite what he seems. But how do they all fit together? And can Nico and Thrax find Selene? Time is running out.

Saviour Pirotta sets the scene carefully so that his young readers know why Delphi was important and what, exactly, happened there. We also learn about the significance of status. Nico is freeborn, so he could leave the self-centred Ariston if he wanted to, whereas Thrax is a slave with no freedom and no rights; he can only aspire to buy his freedom and return to his grieving mother in Thrace—which doesn’t look very likely.

The plot twists and turns ingeniously as the two Mystery Solvers try to bring the villain to justice (though I doubt that the word of a mere girl would carry much legal weight at that date). Freya Hartas’s lively illustrations help us to imagine the scene. The helpful glossary at the back could do with some guidance with the pronunciation. I enjoyed this book and look forward to Nico and Thrax’s next adventure. For 11 plus.