Posts Tagged ‘django wexler’

the    mad apprentice

This is one of those children’s books that is eminently suitable for adult readers of fantasy. It is the sequel to “The Forbidden Library” and in my opinion, is quite probably the better book – certainly in terms of structure, and is possibly even more imaginative.

One of the old Readers, Esau-of-the-Waters, is dead, something which simply does not happen naturally. Murder is suspected, and the likely culprit is his apprentice, Jacob. As is the custom, a group of other apprentices are sent to Esau’s realm to find out what happened and to bring Jacob to justice. Alice isn’t entirely unhappy about being included, since she might find clues as to what happened to her lost father. But it soon becomes evident that something in Esau’s realm is intent on killing the apprentices. Don’t ask me why, but I was reminded of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. All those towers. And as for the apprentice, yes, it does appear he is indeed quite mad.

I would not give this book to a child prone to nightmares, there is too much here to feed bad dreams, but otherwise it’s a fun read for fantasy-lovers of all ages.

Corgi Children’s

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Review of The Forbidden Library

the forbidden library

Apparently Wexler’s previous work was a series of sprawling fantasy doorstops called “The Shadow Campaigns” which I am not familiar with. This is a quite different beast, a fantasy novel with a historical setting for older children and younger young adults, and is consequently much shorter and more tightly written. For both of which we can be thankful!

 His clever trick to establish the period of the setting worked for me, having his characters discussing newspaper articles about earthquakes in New Zealand and Managua, and a war in Spain, although I question whether a younger audience would get it. But then our young heroine discovers the hidden magic in her world and the fun starts.

 I have to say that Wexler’s take on libriomancy works really well, better than I’ve come across before in many ways. His heroine, Alice, is well-realised, though I have my doubts about some of the supporting cast, whose motives are a bit obscure. I do think the choice of name was unwise – we already have our Alice; and we must blame the publisher for the blurb, which is so over-blown that it’s truly off-putting.

 However, overall not a bad read, enjoyable by both children and adults; and with some truly memorable images, like the swarm and the evil wasp fairy! Oh, and there is a talking cat with plenty of cattitude… and it’s all set up for a sequel.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui