Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2015 by Kathy Dawson Books
Format read: ARC via publisher
Uncle Geryon’s library holds many secrets and much magic so, despite battling a dragon and tree sprite, Alice has barely gotten her feet wet. Now Uncle Geryon decides it’s time for Alice to have her first adventure outside his library, and she’s not going alone. Alice, Isaac, and four other apprentice Readers are tasked to capture a rogue apprentice who murdered his master, but the library he’s hiding in isn’t the easy target they expected; none of them know the library is still a working deadly labyrinth, or that the vicious guardian is still protecting it. As the apprentices face the fight of their lives, Alice learns much more about Isaac, Geryon, and the fate of her father.
Perfect for fans of Coraline and graduates of The Books of Elsewhere, this is a classic middle-grade fantasy, with a poignant, dark edge.
Wexler reintroduces readers to the spectacular world that we first visited in The Forbidden Library. A Reader has been killed by his apprentice, and Alice, Issac and four other apprentice Readers have been tasked to capture the rogue apprentice. However, a routine task quickly becomes complicated, when they're lured into a labyrith called Torment...
From the start, Wexler emphasizes that this is now a world where things have just become far more complicated for Alice. Not only does she have to deal with the dangers of the Labyrinth, but she also has to deal with the growing politics amongst her cadre of fellow apprentice Readers. It's very much a world where you don't always have friends and you have to rely on your own instincts, so it's impressive that Alice continues to show kindness, even when it can very much be viewed as a weakeness - especially as she seeks to find out what's happened to her father.
Ultimately, this is one of those books where revealing too much does the reader a disservice. So let me just conclude by saying: this book has it all. Not only has Wexler continued to build on an intricate world of fantasy and adventure, he's also done a great job of incorporating many of the moral, ethical and intellectual dilemmas for his characters, which readers of all ages will recognize. Alice shares a kinship with the young women of fiction and fantasy that have come before her, and like Lucy and Lyra, I'm confident that she'll leave her mark on the world.
I can't recommend this book enough, and I can't recommend this series enough. Go out and read both. You and the young reader in your life will thank me later.
The Mad Apprentice is made up of extraodinary layers of imagination and adventure-laden chapters, while also providing valuable lessons on bravery, friendship and courage, all with an intelligent, likable heroine to lead the charge. I can't wait to introduce the world to Alice's continued journey, and I know that readers will undoubtedly love her and this book as much as I do.
I highly recommend this book for all fantasy lovers, full stop.