The Last Apprentice: Wrath of the Bloodeye
by Joseph Delaney
YA fantasy. 511 pp.
Thomas Ward has spent two years as the Spook's apprentice. He's faced unimaginable peril, and survived. But a new danger has emerged: an ancient water witch, Bloodeye, is roaming the County intent on destroying everything in her path. To strengthen his skills, Tom is sent to the far north to train with the demanding Bill Arkwright. Arkwright lives in a haunted mill on the edge of a treacherous marsh, and his training methods prove to be harsh and sometimes cruel. Will Tom's new bag of tricks be enough to overcome a critical mistake that leaves him confronting Bloodeye on his own?
For starters, I'm not happy with the flap copy as it's quite misleading. The Fiend (a.k.a. the Devil) is roaming the County, intent on destroying everything in its path. And yes, it wants to destroy Tom, but it has its reasons for sending its daughter Bloodeye after Tom instead. And I really don't see the "critical mistake" that Tom makes. True, he makes a questionable choice, but it really isn't a mistake. Unless all choices that lead to difficult or trying circumstances are mistakes. I always figured that was just part of living life and growing.
Anyway. I love this series. The writing seems to improve with each book. Each book seems to have impeccable pacing, and I wonder how Delaney learned to do that. It must be a natural gift since I can think of no other author who consistently does that. The characters are so well portrayed, it's rather scary. Even his stock characters (you know, the ones that are supposed to be flat) have some dimension.
So, yeah. I like this series. Heaps. You should too.