The Mad Apprentice by Django Wexler is the sequel to The Forbidden Library, a story of a girl with the power to enter books, bind magical creatures to her, and summon their powers back in the real world. The world of the Readers is dark and dangerous though, and The Mad Apprentice delves into just what happens when a Reader loses control of his apprentices and creatures! There aren’t major spoilers below since The Mad Apprentice stands alone pretty well, but feel free to check out my review of book one instead to be safe ;-).
Note: I received an audiobook copy of The Mad Apprentice from the publisher. Listening to a book significantly impacts my reading experience.
The Mad Apprentice by Django Wexler
Narrated by Cassandra Morris
(The Forbidden Library #2)
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on April 21st, 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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When Alice's mysterious Uncle Geryon sends her to help capture a rogue apprentice--a boy who has the same ability Alice has to Read himself intostories--she knows to expect a wild and unpredictable trip. But even though Alice has visited the magical realms inside libraries before, this adventure is far more dangerous. Because Torment, the magic creature holding this library together, has gone mad.
But he might also have information about Alice's missing father.
- The narration of The Mad Apprentice is quite good. The narrator portrays the young Alice well and does a good job with the various other characters, giving them distinct voices and emphasis that helps convey the dialogue.
- My main concern with the previous book was this whole idea of binding sentient creatures to your will and basically enslaving them, given just how clearly sentient various creatures that Alice encounters are. However, right away in the beginning of The Mad Apprentice, Alice confronts this issue herself and makes it clear that while other Readers do not treat these creatures morally, Alice is determined for her creatures to be voluntary allies, not slaves. I was so relieved for this to be cleared up!
- The Mad Apprentice, as the title suggests, focuses on another apprentice who has apparently gone mad, which means we get to meet a number of other apprentices and see all their cool powers! I really love the unique creatures that Wexler has come up with to include instead of just the typical fantasy critters, so discovering a whole slew more of them was lots of fun.
- Alice has a rather complicated bond with a dragon at the beginning of The Mad Apprentice and I was delighted to find out a whole lot more about this awesome creature throughout the story. There is so much more going on with him than we previously thought :D.
- The Mad Apprentice introduces what is likely going to be the series plot arc and I’m freaking pumped. There is something very different about some of the stronger and more powerful creatures, and it sounds like the Readers were not always as powerful as they’d like Alice to believe, mwahahahaha!
- My one complaint about the narration is that two of the apprentices apparently had British accents and they just sounded a bit ridiculous.
- The Mad Apprentice involves a fair amount of death, danger, and dismemberment, so it is not a middle grade for young readers that can’t handle a darker tone. The tone reminded me a lot of the later Harry Potter books when it is made clear that not everyone is going to make it through the war.
- I was left feeling that The Mad Apprentice was too short, even considering that it is (kind of) middle grade. The plot just went by a bit too quickly for me and I was startled when it was over.
The Mad Apprentice has made it clear to me that I will be devoutly reading The Forbidden Library series, though now I can’t decide whether to stick with audiobooks or print since there are illustrations that you miss when listening! I’m going to have to go through the hardcover I buy to see all the lovely art regardless ;-). If you are a fan of darker middle grade with unique and interesting fantasy elements, this is a series to check out.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Mad Apprentice by Django Wexler
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.