The Spook's Tale and Other Horrors (The Last Apprentice Series)

The Spook's Tale and Other Horrors (The Last Apprentice Series)

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by Joseph Delaney

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Enter a land where creatures of the dark creep out of the shadows

The Last Apprentice series follows the terrifying adventures of the Spook's apprentice, Thomas Ward, as he learns to battle the monsters of the dark and keep the county safe. But Tom's is only one story.

The Spook himself was once an apprentice. How did he begin his training? How did Alice, a

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Enter a land where creatures of the dark creep out of the shadows

The Last Apprentice series follows the terrifying adventures of the Spook's apprentice, Thomas Ward, as he learns to battle the monsters of the dark and keep the county safe. But Tom's is only one story.

The Spook himself was once an apprentice. How did he begin his training? How did Alice, a young witch and Tom's closest ally, overcome her dark past? How did the assassin Grimalkin become the most deadly and feared witch in the county? And you'll discover the rest of the county's menacing villains, collected in a gallery of horrors, and relive the vicious battles waged against them.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
This companion to "The Last Apprentice" series provides back-story as well as an introduction to the series. In "The Spook's Tale," the longest of the stories, Old Gregory reflects on how he became a Spook's apprentice when he was a young man. Told in first person, this tale is reminiscent of scary stories told around the campfire or on stormy nights. Tom Ward is Old Gregory's last apprentice and in "Alice's Tale," we learn how his friend Alice Deane struggles with the good and bad forces within her. She could become an evil witch like most of her family but for now is committed to Tom's quest to overcome the evil forces. Tom sometimes must work with the witch's assassin, Grimalkin, in his quest for good. Her past is revealed in "Grimalkin's Tale." Prominent figures from other books in the series are introduced in "The Gallery of Villains." The stories are scary and gruesome but appropriate for young people fascinated by "things that go bump in the night." Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
VOYA - Vikki Terrile
Each novel in The Last Apprentice series is part of young apprentice spook Tom Ward's diary, providing readers only one perspective of what is taking place. With this newest addition to the series, Delaney fills in some of the information on several other series characters and the many villains they have encountered. This book is truly supplemental, filling in just a bit of background and excerpting from the novels some of Tom's interactions with the creatures he has fought. The longest story tells of young John Gregory's first meeting with the spook who would become his master, although it does not encompass what might be the more interesting story of why he decides to leave the priesthood years later to become an apprentice spook. Alice's story fills in what happens when she returns to her witch relatives' village to find out who has kidnapped Tom's family. The tale about the witch assassin Grimalkin is almost a tease; like Alice, she is an intriguing character struggling with good and evil, and this story of how she becomes an assassin is in sharp contrast to the later scene of her attacking Tom. The villains' pieces are pulled straight from the previous five books, accomplishing little because this book will have limited appeal to anyone who has not already read any of the other books. Series fans will find this unessential addition to the series interesting but containing little that would qualify as "horrors." Reviewer: Vikki Terrile
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—These short stories are narrated by secondary characters from the popular series, giving insight into some of Tom Ward's well-known companions. A "Gallery of Villains" section identifies additional characters and gives a citation to the novels. This teaser section makes this book invaluable for booktalking as these two- to three-page chapters leave readers hanging in just the right spot. This book would be perfect for pulling reluctant readers into the series. The occasional black-and-white illustrations add a creepy, atmospheric touch.—Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Last Apprentice Series
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Last Apprentice: The Spook's Tale
And Other Horrors

Chapter One

The Dead Apprentice

When I was really young, perhaps no older than six or seven, I had a terrible nightmare. It began as a pleasant dream. I was sitting on a hearth rug in the small front room of our cramped row house in Horshaw. I was gazing into a coal fire, watching the sparks flicker and dance before they disappeared up the chimney. My mam was also in the room. She was knitting. I could hear the rhythmical click-click of her needles, and I felt really happy and safe. But then, over the noise of the knitting needles, I heard the dull thud of approaching footsteps. At first I thought they were outside, where my dad and brothers were working, but with a growing sense of unease I realized they were coming from the cellar. Who could possibly be down in our cellar? The sound of the heavy boots on stone grew louder. They were climbing the steps toward the kitchen, and I knew that, whatever it was, it was coming to get me. The air suddenly developed a distinct chill—not the cold that winter brings; this was something else.

In the nightmare I tried to call out to my mam for help, but I couldn't make a sound. I was mute and paralyzed, frozen to the spot. The boots came nearer and nearer, but my mam just carried on sitting and knitting while my terror slowly increased. The fire flickered and died in the grate and the room grew colder and darker with each ominous approaching footstep. I was terrified, panic and dread building within me by the second.

A dark shadow shaped like a man entered the room. He crossed to where I cowered by the fire, and before Ihad a chance to move or cry out, he picked me up and put me under his arm. Then he took me back into the kitchen and began to descend the cellar steps, each clump of his big boots taking me deeper and deeper. I knew that I was having a nightmare and realized I had to wake myself up before I was taken into the absolute darkness at the foot of the cellar steps.

Struggling and straining with all my might, I somehow managed to do it just in time. I awoke, panting with fear, my brow wet with sweat, trembling at the thought of what had almost happened.

But my nightmare didn't happen just once. It came to me time and time again over the course of several years. After a while I had to tell someone, so I confided in my brother Paul. I was afraid that he might laugh, that he might mock me for being so terrified of a dream. But to my surprise his eyes widened, and with a shaking voice, he revealed that he had been having exactly the same nightmare! At first I could scarcely believe him—but it was true! We had both been dreaming the same dream. In some ways it was a comfort, but what could this strange coincidence mean? Together we reached an important agreement.

If you were in the dream and managed to escape it, you had to wake your brother, because he might still be trapped in that nightmare, awaiting his turn to be taken down the cellar steps. Many's the night when I was sleeping peacefully, not dreaming at all, and my brother would shake me by the shoulder. I'd wake up blazing with anger, ready to thump him. But then he'd whisper in my ear, his eyes wide, his face terrified, his bottom lip trembling:

"I've just had the dream!"

I was instantly glad I hadn't thumped him—otherwise next time he might not wake me when I was having the nightmare and needed his help!

Although we told ourselves this was just a dream, there was one thing that terrified us both. We felt absolutely sure that, if we were ever taken into the dark at the foot of the cellar steps, we would die in our sleep and be trapped in that nightmare forever!

One night as I lay awake, I heard disturbing noises coming from the cellar. At first I thought I was in the dream, but slowly, with a shudder of fear, I realized these were waking sounds, not dreaming sounds. Someone was digging into the soft earth of the cellar floor with a shovel. I felt that strange unnatural coldness again and heard boots climbing the stone steps, just as they did in my nightmare. Covering my ears to block out the sounds was hopeless, because they didn't stop. Eventually, scared almost witless and weeping in distress, I screamed out into the darkness.

That wasn't the only time it happened, and my family's patience started to wear thin. Another night, angered by the fact that I'd woken them all up again, my dad dragged me down the cellar steps, threw me into the darkness, and nailed the door shut, leaving me alone and trapped there.

"Please, Dad! Please. Don't leave me here in the dark!" I pleaded.

"You'll stay there until you learn to stop waking us up!" he retorted. "We've all got work in the morning. Think of your brothers and your poor mam. It's about time you grew up!"

"Please, Dad! Give me another chance!" I begged, but he didn't relent.

He was a good man but also hard—that's why he put me in that dark, terrifying cellar. He didn't realize what I could see and hear: things other people couldn't, things that would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your heart hammer hard enough to break out of your chest. Although I didn't know it at the time, it was a consequence of what I was. I was the seventh son and my dad had been a seventh son before me. For me, the world was a very different place. I could both see and hear the dead; sometimes I could even feel them. As I sat on the cold cellar floor, I heard things approaching me in the dark, seeking me out with cold fingers and whispers, taking forms that only I could see.

The Last Apprentice: The Spook's Tale
And Other Horrors
. Copyright © by Joseph Delaney. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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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