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Book Review

The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "39 Clues" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

At the reading of Grace Cahill's will, Cahills from around the world are present to collect their portion of her estate. But Grace threw them a curve: Each heir can take $1 million or join an epic treasure hunt in which the winner will receive power beyond his or her wildest dreams. Dan and Amy, favored young relatives of Grace, accept the challenge despite the threats of their guardian, Aunt Beatrice. With the help of their au pair (nanny), Nellie, they fly to Paris and battle their quirky, scheming relatives to follow up on clues involving Ben Franklin (supposedly an ancestor of the Cahill clan). At the end of the book, Dan and Amy are ahead in the race, but readers are left guessing at answers that will be found only in upcoming installments of "The 39 Clues" Series.

Christian Beliefs

Nellie mutters something in Spanish that "sounded like a prayer" to Dan and Amy.

Other Belief Systems

Grace Cahill has a necklace that she considers a talisman or good luck charm. After her death, it is in Amy's possession.

Authority Roles

Amy and Dan's parents (of whom they speak fondly) are deceased. For a while, Dan and Amy are under the guardianship of a mean aunt who doesn't like them and calls the authorities on them when they go against her wishes. Nellie is easily lured into their adventure and does whatever they ask. She serves as an authority figure only in the sense that she can drive a car and get them through customs. Various adult members of the Cahill family are fiercely competitive. They lie to and steal from Dan and Amy — and even threaten them with weapons and poison — in an effort to solve Grace Cahill's mystery hunt. Grace dies early in the book, but the text makes it clear she had a loving connection with Dan and Amy and was glad they were not evil schemers like her other relatives.

These are intelligent children who work their way through a foreign country searching for clues. They've been disowned by their mean aunt and can't return to the U.S. because she has notified the authorities that they've escaped. Grace has urged them to trust no one. Although Nellie chauffeurs them, she doesn't do anything to care for them. They tell her to wait in the car for them while they look for clues, and she complies. The kids do not have any real authority figures in their lives.


One use of God's name taken in vain. A cousin once uses the word wankstas. Weapons and poison are threatened against the children.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Each book in "The 39 Clues" series was written by a different author.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 12


Rick Riordan






Record Label



Scholastic, Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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