The Mad Apprentice, the second book in The Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler, continues the questions and explorations of the first book. Alice is sent by her Uncle Geryon to help capture an apprentice who has apparently killed his master. She meets up with other apprentices and sets out to explore the boy’s home—which, it turns out, is under the control of an insane and malicious being. And it is this being who may just know what happened to her father.
The Mad Apprentice is a much darker book than the previous title. There, Alice had only begun to learn what being a Reader meant. Now, she has had to accept, however unwillingly, that her only source of real power comes from enslaving the creatures she finds in books—and, as an apprentice, she has no choice in the matter; it is kill or be killed. She is also finding that it can be tempting to play with that power. Further information about her ally, Ending, does nothing to reassure her about her future. She is also faced with a number of tough choices while traveling through the library. She is tough, resilient, and smart but so is everyone she is facing, and her basic desire to be and do good is taking a beating.
All of this makes for a very tense read, making it hard to leave the book to do other things. Wexler knows how to pace his work, balancing excitement with unexpected moments of peace—moments during which he further develops the characters’ relationships and which make the next action all the more effective. He faces his characters with tough choices, sometimes offering them no good way out. It is easy to get invested in the fates of these people and to hope that, somehow, they will find their way to a good ending.
The Mad Apprentice came out on April 21, 2015. Look for it on Amazon