The Flannery O'Connor Library

St. Pius X Catholic High School

Revenge of the witch

OM FIC DELANEY

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Revenge of the witch Wardstone Chronicles / Last Apprentice Series, Book 1

Delaney, Joseph.

2011.

1 online resource.

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Capturing witches Binding boggarts Driving away ghosts 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 ... ?.

Lexile: 840L

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Editorial Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly.
Delaney may plumb familiar subjects but expert storytelling and genuinely scary illustrations on Arrasmith's part keep this debut novel fresh. This first in a planned series, the Last Apprentice, introduces nearly 13-year-old narrator Tom, whose parents arrange for him to apprentice with the Spook, as their farm will be given to their eldest son. A haunting description gives readers a sense of why Tom might be fearful of the Spook, who roams the countryside, protecting farms and villages by supernatural means ("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"). However, as a seventh son, like his father, Tom "can see things that others can't," such as the corpses of long-ago hanged soldiers that moan and sway at the far end of his family's property. This is the stuff of skin-prickling campfire stories: Tom must overcome a series of trials to prove himself worthy of the apprenticeship. Readers can almost hear the thumps in the cellar of a haunted house where the hero must spend the night ("Who could have been digging down there in the darkness? Who could be climbing the stairs now? But maybe it wasn't a question of who was climbing the stairs. Maybe it was a question of what"). After readers race through this tantalizingly creepy tale of solitude and sorcery, they will clamor to learn about Tom's future adventures. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Review by School Library Journal.
Gr 5-8-When 12-year-old Thomas, seventh son of a seventh son, is apprenticed to the local Spook, whose job is to fight evil spirits and witches, he expects a life of danger. However, the boy doesn't realize just how soon he'll face a powerful enemy alone, as Mother Malkin escapes her confinement while the Spook is away. Thomas is forced to use his wits, and the help of his enigmatic new friend, Alice, to fight the evil witch. And defeating her is only the start of the boy's problems. Delaney's characters are clearly presented and have realistic depth, and Thomas's mother and Alice stand out for their strong words and actions. The protagonist's voice is clear, and his conflicts over his actions ring true. This first entry in a proposed series is an excellent choice for readers who are looking for a more sophisticated alternative to R. L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books (Scholastic), and the pacing and edgy illustrations at the start of each chapter will appeal to reluctant readers. Delaney's rural, quasi-medieval world is populated by a variety of magic creatures, and readers will look forward to discovering more of them, along with Thomas, as the series continues. A solid choice, particularly for middle school boys.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Booklist.
Gr. 5-8. Delaney grabs readers by the throat and gives them a good shake in a smartly crafted story in which the horror is set within the parameters of a boy's new job. In an unspecified England some centuries ago, Thomas, the 12-year-old seventh son of a seventh son, is taken on as an apprentice by the local Spook. It's the Spook's job to keep the surrounding area free from witches, bogarts, and the creepy things that cause shivers in the night. Tom is not sure he's cut out for the solitary, scary life, and he soon finds himself in trouble, inadvertently freeing a terrifying witch, Mother Malkin, at the behest of a girl named Alice because he's desperate for a friend. Like Anthony Horowitz's Raven's Gate (2005), this is a gristly thriller; Delaney's descriptions of moldering bodies hoisting themselves from the earth and hairy pigs tearing into a witch's heart will have readers' eyes opening wide. Yet the twisted horror is amply buffered by an exquisitely normal young hero, matter-of-fact prose, and a workaday normalcy. Still, like Mother Malkin popping out of her earthy pit, bad things are always there to catch readers off guard. As the warning label on the cover notes, this is Not to be read after dark. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

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