Revenge of the Witch (Last Apprentice Series #1)

Revenge of the Witch (Last Apprentice Series #1)

4.4 285
by Joseph Delaney, Christopher Evan Welch

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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

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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...?

Editorial Reviews
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
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

Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
Last Apprentice Series, #1
Edition description:
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Last Apprentice

Revenge of the Witch
By Joseph Delaney


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.


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.
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Meet the Author

Joseph Delaney is the author of the internationally best-selling The Last Apprentice series, which is now a major motion picture, Seventh Son. He is a former English teacher who lives in the heart of boggart territory in Lancashire, England. His village has a boggart called the Hall Knocker, which was laid to rest under the step of a house near the church.

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