This installment deviates from The Last Apprentice's usual formula, following witch assassin Grimalkin instead of Spook's apprentice Thomas Ward after the events of Rage of the Fallen (2011).
The Fiend has been bound but not killed, so his servants seek to restore him. To prevent this, Grimalkin took his decapitated head with her—it must be reunited with the bound body for the Fiend to rise again. Narrated by Grimalkin rather than presented as Tom's writing, the story is in present tense. The immediacy ratchets up tension as increasing numbers of powerful dark servants pursue Grimalkin. Although the legendary witch assassin is among the best killers to ever have lived, she is endangered by a kretch, a she-wolf/demon hybrid created by dark-magic users specifically to kill her. Forced to seek help, stubbornly self-reliant Grimalkin leaves a path of violent devastation among her allies wherever she goes, making painful sacrifices to thwart the Fiend while Tom seeks ways to kill him. The narration and short, free-verse poems at the beginning of each chapter give a complex look into Grimalkin's peculiar thought processes, and her history is unveiled through the personal stories her protégé enjoys hearing time and again. While her voice differs greatly from the familiar Tom's, the closer look makes her all the more intriguing.
A good balance between dark action and emotional costs. (Fantasy. 11-15)