Books in brief: Django Wexler’s THE MAD APPRENTICE

Django Wexler, The Mad Apprentice. Corgi, 2015. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

In addition to writing pretty decent epic fantasy, Wexler is also writing fun, engaging books for the 8-13 set. The Mad Apprentice is a sequel to last year’s really enjoyable The Forbidden Library. Alice, apprenticed to a Reader (an almost-immortal magician whose power comes in some peculiar way from books), is sent on a… I suppose it is a quest, along with the apprentices of her master’s allies. Their mission? To find and bring back an apprentice who seems to have killed his own master, and who is now hiding in that master’s stronghold. But the stronghold is a labyrinth, and within it Alice will discover several unpleasant truths.

And fight monsters.

It’s a lot of fun. Definitely worth the read.

Books in brief: Mead, Dietz, Sagara, Wexler, Shepherd, De Pierres, Andrews, Arnason

Richelle Mead, Gameboard of the Gods and The Immortal Crown. Penguin, 2013 and 2014.

Bah. These started out promising and rapidly descended into annoying – and in The Immortal Crown, nasty evil-religion kidnapping-and-selling-pubescent-girl-children-into-life-of-abuse because… religion? I dunno, mate, I just work here. Also Odin and Loki show up – how do you make the Norse gods boring? People seem to be managing it left and right these days – and oh, yeah, I almost forgot, there is rape by deception.

William C. Dietz, Andromeda’s Fall and Andromeda’s Choice. Titan, 2014. Second book: review copy via publisher.

I want to talk some more about these books – remind me to talk some more about these books – about what parts of them work really well and what parts of them don’t work at all. But I largely concur with the Book Smugglers’ review of Andromeda’s Fall – it’s not a very clever book, but it is a fun one.

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Flame. Mira, 2014. Review copy via author.

Read for column. Good, fun next installment in series. If you like the series, read this book! It is a return to the city of Elantra, and lots of things go boom.

Django Wexler, The Shadow Throne. Ace, 2014. ARC via

Review here at Very fun book!

Mike Shepherd, Vicky Peterwald: Target. Ace, 2014.

Awful horrible sexist problematic WTF BOOK. Read for review for, though heaven knows if they’ll publish my expletive-laden review.

Marianne De Pierres, Peacemaker. Angry Robot, 2014.

A fun book that mixes science fiction and the fantastic. Not entirely tightly plotted, though.

Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks. Ace, 2014. ARC via

Latest series installment. Read for review for Fun.

Eleanor Arnason, Big Mama Stories. Aqueduct Press, 2014.

Read to talk about in a column. Interesting collection.

Review copies since last we spoke



That’s Anna Caltabiano’s THE SEVENTH MISS HATFIELD, Django Wexler’s seriously entertaining THE SHADOW THRONE, Carol Berg’s DUST AND LIGHT, Rachel Pollack’s THE CHILD EATER, and Sarah J. Maas’s HEIR OF LIGHT.

Three of these I’m on the hook to review for We’ll see where the other two turn up.

Django Wexler’s THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY and Sophia McDougall’s MARS EVACUEES

I read Django Wexler’s The Forbidden Library back-to-back with Sophia McDougall’s Mars Evacuees. They’re very different books, albeit aimed at the same age-group (9-12).

The Forbidden Library is a fantasy novel set in a version of Earth around the turn of the 20th century. Alice Creighton overhears her father having an argument with a fairy. Soon after, her father leaves on a journey, his ship sinks, and Alice is brought under the guardianship of a man called Geryon, who almost certainly doesn’t have her best interests at heart. She learns that she has magical powers in a dangerous and forbidding library, and struggles to learn the truth about what really happened to her father.

Mars Evacuees is a novel set in a near-future Earth that’s been invaded by aliens, the Morrors. Alice Dare, daughter of ace pilot Stephanie Dare, is evacuated to not-properly-terraformed-yet Mars with a group of other young adolescents. But things go wrong on Mars, and Alice and a small group of others must make a dangerous journey alone across the planet to seek help.

Both of these books are an awful lot of fun, although Mars Evacuees is really more My Thing. I recommend them both.

Review copies arrived since last we mentioned such things…

I'm seriously spoiled for choice these days...

I’m seriously spoiled for choice these days…

That’s Glenda Larke’s The Lascar’s Dagger, David Edison’s The Waking Engine, David Weber’s Like A Mighty Army (I got an ARC of that back in January and reviewed it for, I don’t know why Tor’ve sent me another copy, unless it’s just that they sense my shelves need more symmetry and silver leaf), Django Wexler’s excellent-looking The Forbidden Library, and Trudi Canavan’s forthcoming latest.

The Trudi Canavan arrived wrapped in brown paper and sealed with red wax. I preserved the wax seal of ORBIT here:

Gloomy hood cover with red wax seal

Gloomy hood cover with red wax seal.

It’s really a very cool piece of attention-getting. (And now I want a seal all of my own.)

There are also a number of electronic review copies lurking on my harddrive, and this copy of The Gospel of Loki whose review I’m working on lately. But electronic copies don’t have the same oooh shiny factor…