The second book in a new trilogy from Joseph Delaney, the author of the internationally best-selling Last Apprentice series. Tom Ward is now spook of the county, and with his apprentice, Jenny, he continues the fight against boggarts, witches, and terrifying new creatures of the dark. Together with the witch assassin, Grimalkin, Tom and Jenny lead an army into battle against a dangerous enemy—but it all goes catastrophically wrong. The situation seems hopeless until Alice—Tom’s lost love and a powerful witch—appears. But Alice had turned to the dark: can Tom trust her now? Joseph Delaney’s deliciously scary imagination continues Tom’s saga, introducing new readers to the struggle against the encroaching dark and taking longtime fans back to familiar settings, where they will find old friends—and old enemies. Perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure—no prior knowledge of the Last Apprentice series is necessary!
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Because of the nature of A New Darkness, which includes a plot twist that has made me and most of my students want to fling the book across the room in anger, this review contains spoilers. Do not continue if you haven't read the first book in this trilogy!
For many magical reasons, Tom is returned to the realm of the living, and Prince Stanislaw is determined to immediately press him back into action. He decides to attack the kulad (tower) at Valkarky, but Tom would much rather go home. To assure he doesn't, Grimalkin kidnaps Jenny and sends her off with Prince Kaylar. Things go badly in a battle, but Jenny manages to escape and get back to warn Tom, but he and Grimalkin are attacked. They are saved by a welcome but unexpected person from Tom's past, and find that Lukastra is dead but Lenklewth is still a major force to be reckoned with. While the battle is raging around them, Tom and Lenklewth get transported into another dimension where just the two of them can battle it out, and even though a vartek comes with him, Lenklewth is defeated and Tom makes his way back to Chippenden. He and Jenny hope that they can return to their regular life of dispatching boggarts and witches, but when a local farmer is killed by a Golgoth, they know that the battle is coming their way. Luckily, Tom has his returned ally to help him, even though he loses another one.
I was glad to see that even though most of the effort expended had to go toward defeating the Kabalos and the god Talkus as they made their way closer and closer to Chippenden, there were still some nice turns where Jenny got to learn about ghosts and send them on their way.
The best part of these books for me is always the relationships. Tom's long lost ally just about broke my heart, even if Jenny wasn't the biggest fan. There were also some nice touches with the former spook's love, Meg, returning to Chippenden to spend time with John Gregory. There's a lot of discussion about what makes individuals good or evil, and how no one is all of one with none of the other.
While devotees of the first series certainly must pick this up, and there is a lot of crossover interest from fans of John Flanagan's The Ranger's Apprentice series, the inclusion of so much fighting will appeal to readers of Nielsen's The False Prince or Spradlin's The Youngest Templar series.