The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. Therefore, his mother has always planned to apprentice him to the Spook — the traveling exorcist who services the surrounding villages, ridding them of ghosts, witches, ghasts, boggarts, and other troublesome creatures. The Spook performs a nasty, dangerous, and necessary job for the community, and he’s well respected, but his line of work makes him an outsider — people just aren’t comfortable around him. Thomas doesn’t want to become the next Spook — the Spook’s life is hazardous and lonely — but as the seventh son, he doesn’t have other options and he doesn’t want to disappoint his mother.
As Thomas begins his apprenticeship, he starts to learn a lot about the handling of supernatural creatures and he discovers that many of the former apprentices failed… as in died on the job. Then, when the Spook leaves town, a creepy little girl tricks Thomas into freeing a malicious and powerful witch who starts terrorizing Thomas and his family.
Revenge of the Witch, the first episode of a children’s fantasy series called The Last Apprentice in the US and The Wardstone Chronicles in the UK, is fast-paced, exciting, and absolutely terrifying. I liked it immediately when I started listening to it on audio (Harper Audio), especially with Christopher Evan Welch’s wonderful narration, so I picked up a copy for my 12-year-old son at the library (I prefer for my kids to read with their eyes). But that was before I got to the really scary part. Now I’m not so sure that my son can handle Revenge of the Witch — it’s that frightening. This is a book for kids who like to be afraid.
The hardcover version has some extra features — scary illustrations and a copy of Thomas’s journal in which he takes notes as the Spook teaches him. Revenge of the Witch has a satisfying conclusion, but it’s clearly only Thomas’s first adventure and Joseph Delaney has left us with plenty of questions about Thomas, his family, and his new friend that are sure to be answered in later installments. Children who can handle the fright (and teens and adults, too) will definitely want to continue with Curse of the Bane.
The Last Apprentice (The Wardstone Chronicles) — (2004-2015) Ages 9-12. In the UK, these are The Wardstone Chronicles (The Spook’s Apprentice, The Spook’s Curse, The Spook’s Secret, The Spook’s Battle, The Spook’s Mistake, The Spook’s Sacrifice). Publisher: A wonderful and terrifying series by a new writer about a young boy training to be an exorcist. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins …
Other Last Apprentice Tales:
The Starblade Chronicles — (2014- ) Publisher: The first book in a chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—he is a full-fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. First in a three-book arc that introduces brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney’s haunting world. Tom Ward is the Spook, the one person who can defend the county from bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not till he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it. A New Darkness begins a three-book arc that will introduce new readers to Joseph Delaney’s deliciously scary imagination and electrify his longtime fans. A New Darkness is perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure—no prior knowledge of The Last Apprentice series necessary! The Last Apprentice series, the first internationally bestselling series about Tom Ward, is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin.