Dennis, H.L.: The Power of Three (Secret Breakers) (2012)

the power of three
Cover art by Richard Collingridge

I see some reviewers feel The Power of Three ought to be a Young Adult book while others think it is children’s literature. Personally, I consider The Power of Three a children’s story for children over 8-years-old.

Adults often underestimate children and young adults. I hear some of us talking to them as if they were stupid. Others, like crazy old Mr. Smithies, realize that the only thing children lack is experience. Sometimes even the dodgy old Black Chamber is able to think outside the box.

Being part of an undercover group means that not a single person outside of that group is supposed to know what you do. Mr. Smithies is lucky to be married to Mrs. Smithies. We never really learn if she would like to know what he does, but she seems to be perfectly happy to send him off to work.

Brodie is not quite so lucky. She seems to be an orphan. We learn that her mother is definitely dead. Her father could be dead too or maybe he is just off somewhere. Brodie does have her grandfather and lives with him when the mysterious card arrives, the card that ends up making her a member of England’s Black Chamber and Team Veritas.

Early on in the novel it becomes apparent that heredity plays a part in Brodie being chosenfor the job. All three children are descendants of other code-crackers who have had a go at the Voynich manuscript. I wonder if perhaps trying to crack the Voynich manuscript had something to do with the car-accident that killed Brodie’s mother?

Secret Breakers has the feel of James Bond for children/YAs. Dennis manages to bring a flair and tension to the story that belongs in a spy thriller. Brodie’s character is likable. In fact, all of the characters are likeable in one way or another, and most of them are a bit crazy. I think you have to be kind of crazy to want to work in a super-secretive environment with a document that no one has been able to decipher for years and years.


You should visit Helen Dennis’ website for Secret Breakers to read about the research behind the Secret Breakers and other interesting information.



If you want to join a Black Chamber, you can go here.

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