Book Review: Prophecy by S. J. Parris

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An epic cast of historical characters are brought together at one of the most turbulent points in history to create this gripping, compelling mystery. 4 / 5

Summary from Goodreads

The second book in S. J. Parris’s bestselling, critically acclaimed series following Giordano Bruno, set at the time of Queen Elizabeth I Autumn, 1583. Under Elizabeth’s rule, loyalty is bought with blood…

An astrological phenomenon heralds the dawn of a new age and Queen Elizabeth’s throne is in peril. As Mary Stuart’s supporters scheme to usurp the rightful monarch, a young maid of honour is murdered, occult symbols carved into her flesh.

The Queen’s spymaster, Francis Walsingham, calls on maverick agent Giordano Bruno to infiltrate the plotters and secure the evidence that will condemn them to death.

Bruno is cunning, but so are his enemies. His identity could be exposed at any moment. The proof he seeks is within his grasp. But the young woman’s murder could point to an even more sinister truth…

Favourite Quote

“We work at the very edge of knowledge, and that frightens many people.”

(From Prophecy by S. J. Parris, page 121)


Having re-read the first book in this series this past summer (you can find my brief thoughts on Heresy here), I was eager to read the next book in the series, and was not disappointed.

With an epic cast of characters from history – there is Bruno himself, but also Francis Walsingham, and my favourite, Dr John Dee – and set during a turbulent time in history, we are given a gripping mystery.

Bruno is a very compelling protagonist. Being unpopular with many, though not all, Catholics and Protestants alike, it is science and knowledge where his passion and loyalty lies, though he has great respect for those who are willing to believe in him and trust in him.

At 400+ pages, Prophesy is a long book, yet it doesn’t feel like it when reading. The author has a talent for imparting information without it becoming burdensome to the reader, and there is much to share on a variety of topics. Politics, foreign policy, religion, science, magic, superstition, royal lines and noble houses, conspiracies, affairs, murders, mysteries and treason, this story has it all and more besides.

There are plenty of plot twists and turns, and if you know this period of history well, you might very well guess how some of them will play out. I did, but it did nothing to distract from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I found it remarkable that so many story threads could be woven together seamlessly without altering the final fabric of history.

The descriptions of both place and people offer a rich and vivid narrative that I enjoyed immensely. As I read, I felt the right atmosphere was conjured for this period in history, and coupled with the crimes and Bruno’s spying, there was enough tension in the story to keep me engaged in it until the very end.

I am excited to read where the story goes from here. The next book in the series is Sacrilege, and I’ve added it to my “Want to Read” list.


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