Title: The Mad Apprentice
Author: Django Wexler
Alice has only been an apprentice Reader for a few months, but she’s starting to get more comfortable with her power and her new life. Too comfortable? She can’t forget Ending’s comments about Readers building their power on slavery. But when another Reader’s apprentice somehow manages to murder his master, Alice and a group of apprentices are sent to apprehend him. It’s her first time (officially) meeting others like her. Her first time being sent to kill someone. She’s not sure what she’ll do when the moment comes—but at the end of this path may lie answers about what happened to her father, and she’s willing to go through any amount of danger for that.
This starts fast and never lets up. Interestingly, Alice’s powers continue to expand, not only in the normal binding-creatures-for-power ways but in new directions. But she’s rather short on friends—the closest she can get is with Ashes, a half-cat, and perhaps Isaac. If Isaac would actually talk to her.
This book continues to unfold the world, as well. Plenty of new (and hideous) creatures roam the lair the apprentices are wandering. The various apprentices offer oblique insights into how other Readers function. Garret in particular seems the spitting image of a master Reader, although oddly enough he’s only got one trick up his sleeve. Granted, it’s incredibly powerful, but he’s not half as creative as Alice.
And the plot isn’t about pulling punches. Even when it’s handled with humor, like Dex explaining how her arm had once been bitten off, it’s clear the stakes are real, and very high.
Alice’s relationship with Isaac continues to evolve in more complicated ways, which I liked. Maybe a friend and an ally in a world that tries to stamp out all such ties. Maybe an enemy, although not quite as much this time as he was before. I hope they do remain friends. Especially since Alice’s decision at the end will likely lead her down much darker roads to come.
Overall this is an excellent followup to an already strong book. Although it will help to have read The Forbidden Library first, it isn’t required. I rate this book Recommended.