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The Grave Robber's Apprentice

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  826 ratings  ·  158 reviews
Hans doesn't know who he is or where he came from. When he was a baby, he washed ashore in a wooden box and was adopted by the conniving grave robber Knobbe the Bent. Now fate has thrown him together with Angela von Schwanenberg, a young countess fleeing for her life from the evil Archduke Arnulf and his dreaded necromancer. Together, these friends are on a daring quest to ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  826 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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4.5/5 stars

This is a tale of two children whom under normal circumstances would never even meet, but whose destinies bring them together to save an entire kingdom.
Holy frack this is brutal for a kids’ book. I knew it was a little on the gory side to start out with – the main character is the apprentice of a grave robber, after all, which comes with quite a few… interesting descriptions. Plus entertaining little anecdotes, such as Hans being so good at keeping his balance on ice due to
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
"I have to flee to a secret place," Angela said. "There'll be all sorts of perils: Highwaymen. Wolf packs. And if I survive, even worse. I'll be on a quest to free my parents from the devil himself: Archduke Arnulf and his Necromancer! I need someone I can count on."

"That's me!" Hans exclaimed.

Found by a grave robber when he was an infant, Hans grows up not knowing his past or his place in the world. He is horrified by the thought of following in his foster father's footsteps as a grave robber,
Allan Stratton
Mar 08, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
HarperCollins has done a book trailer for THE GRAVE ROBBER'S APPRENTICE that really captures the book's feel. If you're interested, it's on YouTube at:

Incidentally, I dedicated the book to my mom. She was amazing: a single mother in the 1950s. She took me to see Shakespeare's Twelfth Night when I was five and ever after. My love of literature and theatre all stem from those early years. I owe her, well, everything. :)
Amanda Lyons
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I see a lot of reviews riffing on this one for having some darker themes, it really isn't as dark as those reviews make it out to be and honestly underestimate kids' ability to get those themes whether parents and adults like it or not. In fact, we actually fail kids when we assume they don't, we grew up with the likes of Labyrinth, Neverending Story, and Dark Crystal none of which were purified of all potentially sad plot points to better suit parents ideal outlook for kids because most parents ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ala-2012
Well, that was legitimately disappointing. I was really looking forward to reading this after I got a copy at ALA Midwinter, but the only expectation I had about it that was fulfilled was that it is a quick read. But that was because I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. It's like someone crossed The Princess Bride with every Shakespeare play they read in high school, but took themselves completely seriously. It was a huge pile of cliches, and as such, extremely predictable, excep ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all
I think this book was amazing.It had so much adventure,drama,horror,it never gets boring.I could read that book a million times and it would never get boring.I think that the other silver birch readers will like this book because like i said it never gets boring.Even when the are trying to fall asleep its intresting.I think it was amazing how they keep runing and geting away.
Kat!e Larson
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I love when I grab a book at random off the library shelf and really enjoy it. This one pulled me in with its title, and was just as dark and morbid as I hoped. The writing and story were compelling, the characters likable. Sometimes the prose was a little confusing, especially at the end, which was a little messy. But, over all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I'm glad I picked it up.
Jennifer Rayment
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: signed-by-author
The Good Stuff

* Fabulous opening chapter - will grab the kids (and adults) attention right away
* The banter between Angela and Hans is delightful
* Angela is a fantastic heroine - feisty and brave, yet compassionate and hilarious
* Hans is a perfect companion for Angela and they work so well together
* Wonderful adventure story full of nasty villians and wacky secondary characters
* Lots of scary and gross bits will attract the middle school boy reader
* Young kids save the day -- kids eat tha
Joseph R
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked that the book was a mix of Thriller and Mystery because it starts out mysterious with knobbe doing his "grave robbing deed" and then it has Angela on an adventure with Hans to rescue her parents from the necromancer "the devil himself".

I think it turns in to a thriller mid book and it starts to have that thought in it like you know something is going to happen it's like in a movie when it has that mysterious creepy music and it gets higher pitched but in the book Allan expresses it wit
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, arc, pub-2012
The Grave Robber’s Apprentice was a fabulous mid-grade fairytale adventure. It had princesses, evil magicians, traveling performers and an unlikely hero. The pace of the story was great – it never dragged and had a lot of action while still managing to develop emotion and show character depth. It was clearly written and easy to read; I never found myself tripping over the story. The plot was interesting and had themes of family, love and true bravery - along with a lot of fun adventure. Hans and ...more
Andrew Canfield
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This novel falls somewhere between two and three in the star category, failing to achieve anything great while barely passing the muster of minimal expectations.

The Moses-like beginning to the story-where the protagonist washes up as a baby and is found by the grave robber Knobbe-is far from the tale's sole unoriginal aspect. From the young boy (Hans) falling in love (and vice versa) with the daughter of more distinguished family (Angela), to said girl being longed for by a vainglorious, powerfu
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book because my tutor girl has a book report on it and has no idea what it was about. Reading this book as an adult, I didn't mind it. However, I understand now why my tutor girl understood nothing. It is very difficult in terms of comprehension. There is much disgusting blood, guts, violence and gore. There are so many allusions to Shakespeare that a younger student would NEVER understand. Admittedly, I probably missed a few. The language is not easy to understand. Again, I e ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read such a great book in a long time! It is so good, I didn't want to read it because it would end! The writing is superb, and with excellent pacing. The characters and the action grab our interest and carry us along an amazing storyline. I can't wait to recommend this book to many of our library's patrons. They're often surprised that I read books in the "juvenile" section, but this is storytelling of a superior nature.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Grave robbers apperentice was a good book for many reasons. One reason was because it was very action packed. Another reason is that it grabs your attention right off the bat! My favourite chracter was hans because he ends up saving his papa in the end and i think he was very brave!I would suggest this book for kids and adults who like action!
Daniel Legault
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great fun. Terrific adventure fantasy (scary, funny) with characters you can care about.
Erin Lee
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was a happy accident for me. I want a sequel so badly I can't stand it.
Carson Eggers
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The dystopia that I read was called The Grave Robber’s Apprentice by Allan Stratton is a wonderful story filled with adventures, enemies, and saving the Kingdom of Waldberg. When the main character Han, was only a couple weeks old, his mother decided that he didn’t want him anymore. She later put him in a basket and sent him down a river. One night, while the grave robber was robbing graves for anything he could find especially stuff like gold, money, jewelry, or valuable belongings, he heard a ...more
Pamela Hatch
SUMMARY: Hans is a foundling washed up on the beach and adopted and raised by a grave robber a job he does not look forward to. By chance he meets Countess Angela Gabriela, nearly thirteen, on the run from an evil archduke interested in her families wealth and plans to get it through marrying her. A deal with the sly necromancer goes wrong leaving Angela buried alive, her parents in an insane asylum, and the evil archduke loose upon the world. What will it take for them to form an alliance, deve ...more
Gypsy Madden
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Though this seemed pitched at children, I often wondered if it was perhaps too gross and violent for the audience age. It does have grave robbing aplenty, and a deliciously evil duke and necromancer and plenty of adventure with a plucky heroine and reluctant hero. And I did love the Shakespearean touches (Angela was quite like Viola in Twelfth Night, disguising herself as a man before embarking on her quest), and there were touches of MacBeth with the prophecy of the forest coming to Dunsanane, ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Meh. This book was not terrible but also not very good. It was OK, rounding up to two stars.

The plot line of the story was not bad, but also very rushed. It seemed like Stratton was throwing in every idea he had without ever stopping to do much with any of them.

Similarly, the characters seemed really superficial and underdeveloped. The cliched stereotypes were also having me question SERIOUSLY?!? more than a few times along the way. Cliched stereotypes a là blond-haired-blue-eyed heroine and a
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story that was written by Allan Stratton was magical, it kind of reminds me of the book inkheart, the author of inkheart made the story come true by using the right words and weaving them so that they will suck you into the story. The author has a very unique way of connecting the reader to the characters, he weaves the words so that they magically bring the story to life, a very fine book with lots of detail explaining things unlike other books, the ending is pretty obvious even from the st ...more
Hannah Belyea
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
After Angela is freed from the coffin where she faked her death by the son of a grave robber, Hans, the duo join forces with travellers across the land in order to stop the terrible reign of an evil Archduke and the Necromancer working for him before the men can end their lives - learning of life changing secrets along the way. Though brisk with rushed character development and darkly gory descriptions, Stratton will have avid fans of dark fantasy pleased with this quick romp. Hans and Angela ma ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh my goodness what a frolicking read! Splendid adventures for brave and heroic underdogs; impressive villany by devilish tyrants; and a lively, colourful supportive cast. Best afternoon of reading in a long time!

References to Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and the Holy Bible dash boldy and without apology throughout the story for those who can catch them.

Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended to all!
Bérénice Mt
Pros : fast-paced, gruesome and fun
Cons : many major plot points are way too convenient and quite annoying to read as an adult reader (i.e "we need *this* to get out of this situation" - 2 seconds later *this* happens out of the blue) ; very trope-y and predictable. I do not think I would recommend it to anyone older than 11 or 12 maximum (while a lot of middle-grade books are smart enough to suit all ages).
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a total kick! This books is enchanting and reminds me a little of The Princess Bride. It deserves way more than an average of 3.75 stars! It’s adorable and clever and adventurous with twists and turns galore. I picked it up because a student checks it out every year. He says it’s his favorite book so I thought I’d give it a read and I’m glad I did. Great cheer and good fun with plenty of substance.
Glenn Garvie
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming all-out adventure quest that runs at a breakneck speed through its detailed plot. Stratton writes this middle grade story in short but intelligent sentences, throws in just enough gore to keep things interesting, and ties together his numerous characters quite neatly by the end.

A good choice for reading aloud across multiple nights.
Taylor Carson
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a fun story to happen upon! It gave me “The Series of Unfortunate Events” mixed with “A Tale Dark and Grimm” vibes. (The latter a reminder because of some of the descriptions and gory, gross details.) I enjoyed the adventures of young Hans and Angela. A quick read, full of adventures, perfect for young readers.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is about a boy named Hans who was adopted by a grave robber, and a girl who the archduke wished to marry. But my favorite part is when Hans’s real father was actually the older brother of the archduke and the archduke tried to kill his older brother and his son so he could be archduke. It was challenging because of the two plot lines but was tense and thrilling
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
A cute, clean, middle grade read full of a timeline that moves quickly, a setting that is imaginable, and characters that are lovable.

There are some pieces that were too deliberately pointed out and some pieces that didn’t fit into relationship reality for me, but it was a good read!
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had traces that made me think of several other literary influences (Romeo and Juliet, The Princess Bride). It kept me reading to see what would happen, but it wrapped up a little too neatly as kids' books often do.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Combine: Gravedigger's Apprentice (Eng & Fre) 3 15 May 15, 2014 11:21PM  

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ALLAN STRATTON is the internationally acclaimed author of CHANDA'S SECRETS, winner of the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Honor Book, the Children's Africana Book Award, and ALA Booklist's Editor's Choice among others. His first YA novel was the ALA Best Book LESLIE'S JOURNAL. His latest, CHANDA'S WARS, a Junior Library Guild selection, won the Canadian Library Association's Young ...more

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