The Forbidden Library #2
Kathy Dawson Books; April 21, 2015
336 pages (ebook) / 7hr 22m (audio)
4 / 5 ✪
The Mad Apprentice is the second in the Forbidden Library sequence by Django Wexler. A YA series, it chronicles the adventures of Alice the Reader as she navigates through the world, attempting to find her place in it. Though I was somewhat split over the Forbidden Library—it’s really the sophomore effort that can make or break a possible series. And the Mad Apprentice delivered in a big way.
Little has happened following the events of Forbidden, with Alice continuing to study under her uncle, Geryon, master and Reader extraordinaire. She has heard nothing from Isaac, the boy she bonded the dragon with in the first book, and similarly little from the dragon itself. Other than the vague sense that it lurks within her mind, it might as well have been a dream. So begins Book #2, and Alice is quickly dispatched to deal with the former apprentice of a “friend” of Geryon, who has apparently gone rogue and killed his master. Here she meets with several other apprentices, each sent by their masters to deal with this threat. While a few seem friendly enough, some are decidedly not—including one that Alice has met before. Isaac seems different from when Alice had met him before. He is closed off from her, despite their bond. But when Alice begins to doubt that the danger facing them may come more from without than within, something new reveals itself to her. For the labyrinth itself is home to a far more dangerous creature than Jacob (the apprentice that killed his master). In the darkness lurks the ominous creature Torment. But while this contesting this creature may result in Alice and the other apprentices’ demise, it may instead provide information useful to make the risk worthwhile. Specifically, the details of her father’s disappearance.
So, I enjoyed Apprentice better than the initial Forbidden.
Returning are the elements of intrigue, backstabbing and mystery. The characters are more of a strength than the initial; as both Alice and Isaac return, joined by other apprentices. I’ll be interested to see if any appear further down the line—either as friends or enemies. Though several of the other apprentices do form relationships with Alice. Friendly, or otherwise. Also, the budding romance is still budding, as it were. Little more comes of it, in Apprentice.
The character development is rather minute—but given that it is a YA fantasy, that’s not unexpected. There does seem to be a bit for Alice, a bit of a greater arc, one that is sure to continue. The dragon also appears to have its own story arc, but we won’t get into that. Some more of the magic is explained, as each apprentice seems to manifest a different and unique ability. There’s a bit added to every aspect, in my opinion. Each improved upon by a degree. I liked it more, I hope you will too!
The Mad Apprentice capitalizes on the successes it made in The Forbidden Library, pretty much improving across the board. While it’s by no means perfect, Wexler has crafted an solid YA coming-of-age fantasy, complete with magic and mystery. While before we got very little of what it means to be a Reader past jumping into books, Apprentice expands upon this, introducing more characters each possessing their own unique magical abilities. Alice is an interesting, heart-felt character that continues to shine, and hopefully will continue to into the future of the sequence.