Revenge of the Witch (Last Apprentice Series #1)

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Overview

For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried-some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.

Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope; the last apprentice.

Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook's warning against ...

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Revenge of the Witch (Last Apprentice Series #1)

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Overview

For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried-some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.

Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope; the last apprentice.

Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook's warning against girls with pointy shoes include Alice? And what will happen if Thomas accidentally frees Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the county...?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
For decades, Old Gregory has been the county's resident Spook and protector; but now his time is coming to a close. To replace this aging guardian against evil, 30 apprentices are tested. Twenty-nine of them fail; some flounder; some flee; some even perish during the trial. Only one remains: Thomas Ward. Timid and uncertain, he worries that he might not pass his test or perhaps not even survive. Joseph Delaney's suspenseful second novel has pulse-raising potential for middle-grade readers.
Publishers Weekly
A boy apprentices to the village Spook, who keeps the farms safe through supernatural means. "Expert storytelling and genuinely scary illustrations keep this debut novel fresh," said PW in a starred review. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Wonderfully-spooky illustrations promise weirdness and possibly fear and horror—a delightful mix for the 10- to 12-year-old crowd. The first chapter introduces the reader to the seventh son of a seventh son, a boy who is eager to get off the farm, but not so eager that he is jumping with joy at the idea of being apprentice to the Spook. However, Thomas J. Ward goes off on a month's trial. Soon he is up to his ears in trouble and questions. When should a promise be kept? Are all girls with pointy shoes trouble or is Alice, the niece of a witch, possibly good? Left alone for a short time, he ends up loosing the dangerous witch, Old Mother Malkin, from her cage and battling her into a river. When he heads home for solace from his mother (and instead gets a lecture on how he may be the only one who can stand up to the swelling evil in the world), Old Mother Malkin's slime trail warns him that he has brought trouble home to his family, particularly his new-born niece. This accomplished and complex story will fascinate middle-school readers. The characters, particularly Thomas and his family, sometime- friend Alice and his teacher, the Spook, are fully realized and definitely believable in their fantastic world of boggarts, witches, ghasts, and ghosts. Thomas's learning journal at the end is a treat by itself. 2005, Greenwillow Books, Ages 10 up.
—Elisabeth Greenberg
KLIATT
In the same vein as other trendy, spooky British coming-of-age tales, The Last Apprentice tells the tale of 12-year-old Thomas Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son. His parents apprentice him to the local Spook, who wards off witches and other ghostly creatures from the community. It's a lonely and scary job, but someone has to do it, and Thomas's station in life and his associated sensitivity to the paranormal make him a natural for the tasks. Of course, being 12 and a novice, Thomas makes his fair share of blunders, which he has to pay for through some grizzly acts such as recapturing a bloodthirsty witch. Still, Thomas is a likeable and resourceful fellow, and learns much about himself as well as about the Spook and other unlikely creatures. Harper is putting major marketing efforts into this first novel. The ending is such that it obviously calls for at least one sequel if not several as Thomas grows as an apprentice and successor to the Spook. (The hints of the growing Darkness and the "last of the line" portend a rich development.) The setting is credible: Pendle Hill is mentioned, which truly is known by the locals as a witch haven. While not extraordinary, the writing is competent, and the plotline has enough twists to keep the reader in suspense. The character development is also well drawn. Some of the occult details are a bit gross but they are handled discreetly (even the baby-eating takes place "off stage"). Middle schoolers will probably like the edginess of the bound boggarts and hanging ghastlies. Will this book be popular? Yes, if Harper has anything to say about it. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, HarperCollins,Greenwillow, 336p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Dr. Lesley Farmer
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In the first title of the series by Joseph Delaney (Greenwillow, 2005), 12-year-old Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son who has been apprenticed to "The Spook," whose job it is to ward off witches, boggarts, and ghosts from his domain in the English countryside. Twenty-nine other apprentices have gone before Tom. Will he be able to succeed because he is able to "see things," or because he is left-handed, or because his Mam has taught him Greek? After leaving the farm and his family to go with Mr. Gregory, he is put through several trials and warnings to beware of girls in pointy shoes and to make sure not to insult a snippy boggart that cooks and cleans. Then the Spook begins very precise instruction, which Tom voluminously transcribes into notebooks. Young and na ve, Tom makes a big blunder that unleashes the wrath of the malevolent witch, Mother Malkin, a villain who could rival Voldermort. In this tale that is a mix between Sweeney Todd and Harry Potter, listeners will experience tension and suspense along with a likeable character in Tom, who is affable, loyal, and eager to do a good job. Actor Evan Welch reads this first-person narrative with a boyish sincerity. Each character is given a distinct and vibrant voice. Fans of this story will be eager for its sequel to know if Tom will succeed or go the route of the first 29 apprentices. A good purchase where the book is popular.-Jo-Ann Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Readers seeking lots of up-close encounters with the unquiet dead and other creepy entities need look no further. Seventh son of a seventh son, and left-handed to boot, young Tom seems a natural to succeed Mr. Gregory, the aging "Spook" charged with keeping the County's many ghasts, ghosts, boggarts and witches in check. He's in for a series of shocks, though, as the job turns out to be considerably tougher and lonelier than he expects. Struggling to absorb Gregory's terse teachings and vague warnings, Tom is immediately cast up against a host of terrifying adversaries-most notably Mother Malkin, an old and very powerful witch, and her descendant Alice, a clever young witch-in-training who is capable of outwitting him at every turn, but may or may not have yet gone completely to the bad. An appendix of supposed pages reproduced from Tom's notebook adds little to information already supplied, but along with somber images at the chapter heads, does add atmospheric visual notes. By the end, though Mother Malkin has come to a suitably horrific end, there are tantalizing hints that the Dark Is Rising. Stay tuned. (Fantasy. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060766191
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/6/2005
  • Series: Last Apprentice Series , #1
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: Library Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Delaney lives in Lancashire, England, in the middle ofboggart territory.

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Read an Excerpt

The Last Apprentice

Revenge of the Witch
By Joseph Delaney

Greenwillow

ISBN: 0-06-076618-2


Chapter One

A Seventh Son

When the Spook arrived, the light was already beginning to fail. It had been a long, hard day, and I was ready for my supper.

"You're sure he's a seventh son?" he asked. He was looking down at me and shaking his head doubtfully.

Dad nodded.

"And you were a seventh son, too?"

Dad nodded again and started stamping his feet impatiently, splattering my breeches with droplets of brown mud and manure. The rain was dripping from the peak of his cap. It had been raining for most of the month. There were new leaves on the trees, but the spring weather was a long time coming.

My dad was a farmer and his father had been a farmer, too, and the first rule of farming is to keep the farm together. You can't just divide it up among your children; it would get smaller and smaller with each generation until there was nothing left. So a father leaves his farm to his eldest son. Then he finds jobs for the rest. If possible, he tries to find each a trade.

He needs lots of favors for that. The local blacksmith is one option, especially if the farm is big and he's given the blacksmith plenty of work. Then it's odds on that the blacksmith will offer an apprenticeship, but that's still only one son sorted out.

I was his seventh, and by the time it came to me all the favors had been used up. Dad was so desperate that he was trying to get the Spook to take me on as his apprentice. Or at least that's what I thought at the time. I should have guessed that Mam was behind it.

She was behind a lot of things. Long before I was born, it was her money that had bought our farm. How else could a seventh son have afforded it? And Mam wasn't County. She came from a land far across the sea. Most people couldn't tell, but sometimes, if you listened very carefully, there was a slight difference in the way she pronounced certain words.

Still, don't imagine that I was being sold into slavery or something. I was bored with farming anyway, and what they called the town was hardly more than a village in the back of beyond. It was certainly no place that I wanted to spend the rest of my life. So in one way I quite liked the idea of being a spook; it was much more interesting than milking cows and spreading manure.

It made me nervous though, because it was a scary job. I was going to learn how to protect farms and villages from things that go bump in the night. Dealing with ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties would be all in a day's work. That's what the Spook did, and I was going to be his apprentice. "How old is he?" asked the Spook.

"He'll be thirteen come August."

"Bit small for his age. Can he read and write?"

"Aye," Dad answered. "He can do both, and he also knows Greek. His mam taught him, and he could speak it almost before he could walk."

The Spook nodded and looked back across the muddy path beyond the gate toward the farmhouse, as if he were listening for something. Then he shrugged. "It's a hard enough life for a man, never mind a boy," he said. "Think he's up to it?"

"He's strong and he'll be as big as me when he's full grown," my dad said, straightening his back and drawing himself up to his full height. That done, the top of his head was just about level with the Spook's chin.

Suddenly the Spook smiled. It was the very last thing I'd expected. His face was big and looked as if it had been chiseled from stone. Until then I'd thought him a bit fierce. His long black cloak and hood made him look like a priest, but when he looked at you directly, his grim expression made him appear more like a hangman weighing you up for the rope.

The hair sticking out from under the front of his hood matched his beard, which was gray, but his eyebrows were black and very bushy. There was quite a bit of black hair sprouting out of his nostrils, too, and his eyes were green, the same color as my own.

Then I noticed something else about him. He was carrying a long staff. Of course, I'd seen that as soon as he came within sight, but what I hadn't realized until that moment was that he was carrying it in his left hand.

Did that mean that he was left-handed like me?

It was something that had caused me no end of trouble at the village school. They'd even called in the local priest to look at me, and he'd kept shaking his head and telling me I'd have to fight it before it was too late. I didn't know what he meant. None of my brothers were left-handed and neither was my dad. My mam was cack-handed, though, and it never seemed to bother her much, so when the teacher threatened to beat it out of me and tied the pen to my right hand, she took me away from the school and from that day on taught me at home.

"How much to take him on?" my dad asked, interrupting my thoughts. Now we were getting down to the real business.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Chapter I A Seventh Son 1
Chapter II On the Road 23
Chapter III Number Thirteen Watery Lane 37
Chapter IV The Letter 57
Chapter V Boggarts and Witches 69
Chapter VI A Girl with Pointy Shoes 93
Chapter VII Someone has to Do it 115
Chapter VIII Old Mother Malkin 143
Chapter IX On the Riverbank 173
Chapter X Poor Billy 187
Chapter XI The Pit 215
Chapter XII The Desperate and the Dizzy 249
Chapter XIII Hairy Pigs 295
Chapter XIV The Spook's Advice 317
The Journal of Thomas J. Ward 345
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 283 )
Rating Distribution

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(186)

4 Star

(58)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 283 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Creepy & Tense

    Picked this up a while ago but decided it would be a fun Halloween read. I wanted to preview it for my 10 year old son. He's been a fan of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps for years and from the general premise, I thought The Last Apprentice might be a fun series for him.

    For being a middle-reader book, I found this rather engaging. I really enjoyed the character development. I liked the language and imagery used. And I found the story entertaining.

    The concept of the book (the first in a series) is somewhat intriguing. We're in some "County" that feels loosely based on 18th/19th century America. A collection of small towns and villages spread over the countryside with generally religious/righteous people who are very superstitiously afraid of all things supernatural. Which is where the story comes in.

    Gregory is a "Spook" which basically means he wanders around the County taking care of these supernatural problems..witches, ghosts, boggarts, etc. He's sort of like a colonial era version of the Ghostbusters. And he's taken our central character Tom as his apprentice. Tom is a bit frightened and wary of what this means, but he puts his heart into the effort and learns a lot, but also makes a number of very BAD mistakes which lead to a lot of bad problems for himself, the community, the Spook and others.

    I felt like the story arc was pretty cohesive and the trajectory was generally believable. It was a bit of a stretch for me when Tom kept quiet about his encounter on the way back from town (I don't want to spell out what he kept secret, as it's a semi-spoiler). The Spook is Tom's authority figure and he'd given him very specific and particular advice. It didn't seem odd to me that Tom would have an opportunity to go against the Spook's advice.but it did seem odd that he didn't let the Spook know what happened. I guess perhaps he was ashamed/embarrassed, but since nothing had really happened, there shouldn't have been any need for hesitation. Still, I guess that's probably just me trying to put an adult mindset on a child's behavior.

    Anyway, the story progressed well and I found myself caught up in the suspense and horror of the events as they unfolded. Things went from bad to worse to disastrous. And it felt like a natural rather than contrived flow. I was somewhat surprised at how everything finally came to a resolution.

    So, overall, I enjoyed the book and found it an entertainingly creepy read. But, would I recommend it for my ten year old? NO. I would not. Part of me wants to because it was an entertaining read.but the larger part of me doesn't want to because this is a dark and gritty book. It's definitely written with children in mind. The horror stays on the tamer side of things.but it's still very creepy and very dark. The elements of violence and segments of gruesome interactions would certainly be frightening to anyone with tender sensitivities. Perhaps I'm being over protective as a parent.but I don't feel like this is the sort of book for a young reader. I could see the content working for a teenage audience.but by that point, it may come off as a little thin for teens who would rather graduate up to adult horror/thrillers.

    Generally, I give the writing and the story 3.5 out of 5 stars, but even though it's a "kids" book, I can't recommend it for youngsters.

    ****
    3.5 out of 5

    21 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best reads in the genre

    First of all, in response to the previous two reviews, yes, this is a direct part of the series plot, and no, it is no book nine, but book one. This series is, to put it lightly, very well written. I have read several teen series and I don't find any of them to have just quite everything that this series brings to the table. It has the perfect formula for an amazing series and the author's spectacular use of language and prose makes it just polished to the very finest shine. I highly recommend this series to anyone ten and up, or somewhat just getting started in fantasy. I began reading this series as a young teen and still can't wait to finish it out as an adult. The series also progressively gets better with each installment. I promise, if you take the time, you will deeply enjoy The Last Apprentice series.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2012

    Not a vampire/ werewolf book. I really liked it. Read this book

    Not a vampire/ werewolf book. I really liked it. Read this book in 3 days then devoured the second. It might be scarey for younger kids who aren't ok with blood, death and suggestive torture. Really depends on the child. My older son doesn't like blood or violence in his books. My youngest is fine with it. It is creepy but ends well. I really enjoyed a break from werewolfs. Give it a try.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Entertaining and captivating even for adults

    Reading this book was a very easy and quick read, which as an adult I enjoyed when I wanted to be entertained without investing a major commitment of time. It is great for those times when you want to relax your brain and I was surprised how addicted I became to the characters. Its like a really good piece of candy that you consume quickly and leaves you wanting more. I read through the remainig published series and loved them. I can't wait for my children to be old enough to read this series and I look forward to the next published book.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    THe Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch

    Have you ever read a book so thrilling that it almost seemed like watching a horror movie? The horror fiction Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney will lead you through a very exciting and eerie journey. This book will take you to a new exciting world of ghosts and witches.
    Tom Ward is an ordinary boy who lives on a farm next to Hangman's Hill. This is a place where most soldiers are hanged after a fierce battle and also a place full of scary witches and ghosts. This fascinating setting really catches the reader's attention. The town needs a spook to save the people and the only spook of the town, Old Gregory will not be able to live any longer. Tom Ward is the seventh son of the seventh son, which makes him really special. He is chosen to be the last apprentice to take over Old Gregory's place after he dies. He is the last chance and the last hope. Even though Tom is really scared of being a spook, he is forcefully taken by the spook. Tom gets trained for months to master the skills that he had been taught. Tom and Old Gregory go along very well, but Old Gregory appears to be very mysterious and always tries to hide his profile. His mysterious behavior makes the audience not want to stop reading this book. Throughout his training, Tom grows more mature and independent. Tom and Old Gregory start their journey on fighting witches and chasing ghosts. On their way, Tom meets a mysterious witch named Alice. Later on, his whole family is jeopardized by Mother Malkin Tom ends up having to deal with Mother Malkin himself without the help of the spook. Tom courageously fights Mother Malkin with all the knowledge he has from the spook's teaching.
    Will Tom and Alice go along together well? Will Alice betray Tom and end up being a trap? Can Tom kill Mother Malkin and save his family? Will Tom be able to survive? I really think this book kept the readers interested with the creative settings and believable characters. Also, some of the actions in the plot really made me not want to put this book down.

    5 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Definitly a Teen Read!

    I picked upthis book in 3rd Grade thinking since I had already tackled the Harry Potter series Icould handle it, I was wrong. As a meek 8 year old, this book scared me oit of my mind and gave me nightmmares for a couple months. Again like some of the other reviewers mentioned, teen book, I would strongly agree. I have not fought up the courage to go back to this book yet even though I am pretty much a teen now, but I am roundinng up my rating bevause I heard it was well written, ( I didn't get through much of it as an 8 year old). So just warning you, again I have found as well it depends on the reader but if you are a little more of a " Scaredy Squirell" I would hold off on these books untill a little later.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Awesome series

    This is a must read series!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating For Any Age!

    Joseph Delaney has a brilliant imagination that can make anyone from 4th grade to 12th grade addicted to this wonderful series. The suspense, the wonder, the darkness, and Delaney's somewhat strange mind twist into a creepy world filled with monsters of every kind. While the series doesn't make you wanna hide in your closet until the break of dawn, it has its moments to make you want to peek over your shoulder, just in case Joseph Delaney's imagination might be reality, though that might be just on a stormy night. Overall, this book and series are more addictive than when you read Goosebumps back in grade school.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    What? Just look on google!

    This is book 1!!! Why dont you guys look on google to find out the order of the series?
    I kind of lost the paperback of this book so i just had to buy it again on my nook! It was so much cheaper and i wanted to have a complete series again

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Great book

    Great read for teenagers

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Entertaining

    If you like the Fablehaven, Harry Potter type books. You will love these.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2013

    Crazy AWESOME!!!!

    Im on the forth book and i love the series. So far this is the shortest book, but still great. My friend and i agree this is the scrariest one (my friend got me into it and he's on the 11), so don't get discoraged if its freaky. (Please excuse my spelling, spelling my week point...)


    :={)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2013

    Scary

    The best. But very SCARY.$

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    Read twice

    Even though ive read through book 10, all of my "OMG whats going to happen next?" moments stayed the same

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    To Lilypetal and Ferncove.

    This isn't a warriors book so go comment somwhere else.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    One of my favorite series!

    I was of course very sad when Harry Potter ended and I needed something to fill the void that was my childhood. This book fulfilled it and then some! I have owned all of the books and can't put them down! This was also the only other book series to make me cry. Harry potter being the other. I love all the characters and I'm excited for the movie coming out. Its called Seventh Son if you want to check it out. Its a fun book that sometimes even makes this 21 year old scared of the dark. Enjoy!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book was nerve racking and it was a bit scary. Of course i listened to it,i didn't read it. If you haven't read this book, i highly suggest this book(if you like this book read the rest of the books in the series). I hope this reveiw helps.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Fantastic

    This is a fantastic series to read with great imagery and a creative story. The books are spooky and well written if your into fantasy. Since the books is currently listed as costing only $2:00, I say GO FOR IT! You won't regret this fun read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    Last apprentice

    Fast read.. Even for me... "book a day bandit"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2012

    Love this book

    This is a great book. Just dont read it after dark.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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