Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins..
Joseph Delaney is a full time writer living in Lancashire, in the heart of Boggart territory. He is the author of Wardstone Chronicles, Starblade Chronicles, Arena 13, Aberrations and a new book came out in April 2020, Brother Wulf. This is a new spooks story featuring Tom and Alice, but introducing a new character, a young monk called Brother Wulf.
He first got the idea for the Spooks series when he moved to the village where he lives now and discovered there was a local boggart - ‘a man like me needs boggarts around’. He made a note in his notebook ‘a story about a man who hunts boggarts’ and years later when he had to come up with an idea at short notice developed this into ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’, the first book in the series. He continues to draw upon the folklore of Lancashire and has acquired much local knowledge over the years which he tweaks and modifies to create his fictional world. Another source of inspiration has been Lancashire's varied and atmospheric landscape. Many of the locations in the County are based on actual places in Lancashire. In the early days of his writing career Joseph worked as a teacher at a Sixth Form College: his subjects were English, Film and Media Studies. He used to get up early and write every morning before work. That way he could write a book a year – which promptly got rejected! When the Americans bought the series he decided to give up teaching and write full time. Prior to teaching he worked as an engineer in his twenties, completing an apprenticeship just like Tom Ward in the spook’s books. Joseph describes his method of writing as a process of discovery. He doesn’t plot too far ahead and often doesn’t know what is going to happen until he writes it down. In other words he makes it up as he goes along. He prefers writing dialogue to description, in which he says he is a minimalist and leaves much to the reader’s imagination. Joseph has three children and nine grandchildren and is a wonderful public speaker available for conference, library and bookshop events.
Now now, no need to be slightly horrified, my Little Barnacles, or fear for the future of the planet. The fact that I did not convulse while reading the book doesn't mean I loved it. Which means doom and destruction will have to wait for a bit [insert sighs of utter, total and complete relief here]. Okay, to be honestly honest, I didn't, you know, NOT love the book and stuff. I might even have enjoyed it a little. ← I never wrote this and you didn't read it. Go home, you're drunk. But I didn't, you know, lurve it and stuff, either. Which means, you know, that I'm still me and stuff. Feel better now? Good. You're welcome.
➽ I didn't go in Full YA-Allergy Mode (FYAM™) while reading this Surprisingly Non Suicide-Inducing Piece of YA Literature (SNSIPoAYL™) because: ✔ The writing is pretty good It's not badly written. ✔ The story is fast-paced It's not too boring. ✔ The youngish hero is quite likable The disgustingly underage MC is neither totally unlikable nor exasperatingly immature.
➽ I will not bother reading the rest of this series because: ✘ The story isn't bad but desperately lacks originality. ✘ YA Fantasy coming of age stories = YAWN. ✘ The story isn't bad but is horrifyingly lacking in the Deliciously Horrific Stuff Department (DHSD™). ✘ YA Fantasy coming of age stories = YAWN. ✘ The story isn't bad but revoltingly lacks Scrumptious Rated R Moments (SRRM™). ✘ YA Fantasy coming of age stories = YAWN. ✘ I can't be bothered. ✘ YA Fantasy coming of age stories = YAWN. ✘ I can't be bothered. Ha.
Also, some ill-intentioned nemeses well-intentioned friends told me later books in this series were really bad. So QED and stuff.
My case I rest.
Because Evgeny described this as "Harry Potter set in medieval times written as horror with the main character having zero magic power."
So let's get crazy! Let's read YA! I am strong! can do this!
'Warning: Not to be Read after Dark' This is written on the back of the book. And I really wish I took that advice. Cause for a children's/ya book, this one is freaking scary.
From the beginning this book grabbed my attention, and it held it all the way to the end. I liked the characters, especially Tom and Alice. I loved how Tom grew throughout this book, and I enjoyed reading about his journey.
I liked the world, this was set in. I also really liked where the story went, and there were even some plot twists that I didn't see coming.
Amazing start of the series, and hopefully I'll get my hands on the second one, cause I'm dying to know what'll happen next.
Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice, #1), 2005, Joseph Delaney Characters: Mr. Gregory, Thomas J. Ward, Alice Deane Abstract: 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. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیستم ماه دسامبر سال 2013 میلادی عنوان: آخرین شاگرد 1: انتقام جادوگر، اثر: ژوزف دیلینی، مترجم: مریم منتصرالدوله، ویراستار: احمد پورامینی؛ نشر: افق، تهران، چاپ نخست 1391، در 304 ص.، مصور، فروست: رمان نوجوان 94، شابک: 9789643698041، داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی – سده 20 م محافظ، «گرگوری» پیر، سالها منطقه را از شر موجودات پلید نجات داده، و حالا در زمان پیری، باید جانشینی برگزیند. اما چه کسی؟ از «بیست و نه» شاگردش، بعضی شایستگی نداشتند، و بعضی دیگر جان سالم به در نبردند. حالا نوبت «توماس وارد»، آخرین شاگرد «گرگوری» است و ... ا. شربیانی
Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! I have a very, very good feeling about the rest of the books in the Wardstone Chronicles after completing this book (it's called Revenge of the Witch in the US)... - First of all, a very, very engaging and rather original plot! It's similar to HARRY POTTER in this: both take place in England, and both have a lot to do with folkoric creatures and legends: witches, boggarts, and the like. But there's where the similarities end. You can read the synopsis up at the top and know that this will be the story of Thomas J. Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son (hey Angie Sage--that's like your story!) who becomes the apprentice of the County's Spook (hold your horses - fellow Americans! That's the dude's title) and through all sorts of adventures learns the lessons of the trade. - Second, I am a new, big fan of Joseph Delaney's writing style. His prose is simple (not highfalutin' like some other authors out there!) and yet incredibly descriptive; he draws you fully into the world of his story. Every word is engaging, every word flows with ease to create an image in your mind. - With that in mind, I do want to make a declaration: I READ THIS BOOK AFTER DARK! The book warns readers specifically not to do that. And I huffed and I puffed and I said, "this book won't be scary! I'm 21 years old now!" and within a few minutes I was opening up my rommmate's door just to make sure I wasn't alone. So this book isn't really *scary* so much as it's incredibly eerie in some sections. There are parts that read like a good'ol fashion ghost story. In my opinion, Delaney doesnt overdo himself and really hammer home what's going on - rather he paces everything so that you are drawn in to the suspicion and the intensity of the story and you can't put the book down! - Now here's my fine-print: I think this book would be enjoyed best by the +13 crowd. I got the number 13 just because that's the age of the main character and I personally think that anyone lower than maybe 7th-8th grade might potentially have a hard time with some details of the story. However, I didnt find anything "inappropriate" per see, and if there are any fellow religious people out there, this info is for you: there are a couple parts where characters speak critically of priests. Not God, priests. It all seems reasonable within the story, and if it didnt bother an ultra-sensitive person like me, it probably won't bother you, either. :)
So CHECK OUT this book!!!! Again, in America, it's called Revenge of the Witch and it's part of the Last Apprentice series. I usually don't give out 5-stars, but most every aspect of the story was superb! Definitely recommended---to the +13 crowd!
I'd really rather give this one 4.5 stars, because it was an excellent book. Although a young adult book, it is definitely sophisticated enough for an adult to enjoy it (I don't consider myself sophisticated, but I still think a person who is would like it). I liked that the suspense builds. There are no cheap thrills or shock value scares. Instead, the author takes his time and builds up the menace so that you spend your time trying to prepare yourself for the scare. Even still, you won't hear someone yelling 'boo.' Instead the moment of dread will come and you will think, whoa, "I'm glad I'm not in Tom's shoes right now." I do love stories where a character comes into their destiny, and this is one of them. Tom wasn't really sure that he wanted to be a spook after all. But he didn't have any other trade in mind, and he definitely didn't like farming. But it turned out his destiny was waiting for him as the seventh son of the seventh son. He was apprenticed to train as the next Spook, which is a person who rids the towns of evil, supernatural creatures. It is a job that is looked down on by others, and promises to bring the bearer a lonely life. But at the time, Tom figures it's better than farming, and his mother doesn't really give him much of a choice. Let's just say she had his destiny determined long before he was born. You get to see Tom struggle with his role as the Spook's Apprentice, several times, deciding to quit but having his mind changed in various ways. He makes some mistakes along the way, but learns from them, so there is also a good coming of age story in this book.
I like that there is definitely good and evil in this book. But there are also humans who could go either way. Yes there are bad witches, but there are some that are benign. There is one character that is likely to be in-between, and she has a very pivotal role. I believe that she will have a very important place in Tom's life as he matures. Perhaps there will be a romantic future for Tom and Alice when they get older.
The parts with the witches really did unnerve me. They are horrible creatures who kill and eat people and use their bones for dark magic. It was refreshing to read a book that actually had bad witches for once. I was very proud of young Tom for facing off on not one, but two witches that were out for his blood and his bones, and saving a young child that was likely to be one of their victims.
The author really did a great job of setting a sinister tone. It wasn't over the top, but very subtle and building. His use of words drew a very vivid image, where I felt as though I was standing there and the witch was crawling out of the grave to get me.
Another thing I liked was that this story was not predictable. You don't know how it's going to end. You don't know the way in which the witch will manifest herself. She could have possessed any one of the people in the house during the climax moments of this story.
Tom was a sympathetic, likable narrator. He was realistic for his age, but I truly did admire his bravery although he was scared when a rational person would have been scared. He was often left to deal with situations that would have been challenging for a grown-up, much less a boy of twelve. He risked his life to do the right thing, and that was very admirable to me.
There are questions that I would still like answers to, but reading the next books in the series, will definitely give insight into the enigmatic Spook, and Tom's mother, who has gifts that are still somewhat mysterious at this point.
If you want to read a young adult book that has the appeal of giving a good, sustained scare instead of a series of shock value, short-lived scares, I think you would enjoy this one. A cool bonus with this book is pages of Tom's journal, a map of the areas in the book, and the key to the codes used by a Spook in his trade.
Intensely scary. There was a time or two I raced up the stairs to jump into the safety of my bed after listening to this book. Thank goodness I'm left-handed which, according to the book, gives me a slight advantage over anything creepy that goes bump in the night.
One star had to go for things like coffin maggots and carnivorous hogs--gross!
Of the books I have recently listened to on CD this one has the best narration by far. It is excellent.
Ο μαθητευόμενος του Σπουκ είναι ένα καλό παραδοσιακό βιβλίο φαντασίας, σε μερικές στιγμές του λίγο πιο σκοτεινό και για αυτό το λόγο παρότι ακολουθεί τη πεπατημένη, είναι ακατάλληλο για τις πιο μικρές ηλικίες αναγνωστών. Όμως στάθηκε αδύνατον να μην το αγαπήσω ιδιαίτερα, διότι ναι αγαπώ τις πολυτελείς βιβλιοδεσίες. Το παραδέχομαι. Το διάβασα πολύ πιο ευχάριστα μόνο και μόνο γιατί άγγιζα τη σκληρόδετη έκδοση και ξεφύλλιζα τα σκιτσάκια στην αρχή κάθε κεφαλαίου. Τι να πω; Είμαι κακομαθημένη αναγνώστρια…μακάρι όλα τα βιβλία να είχαν τόσο πολυτελείς βιβλιοδεσίες. Εννοείται θα διαβάσω και τα επόμενα.
Effectively combines gothic horror archetypes with modern fantasy. Vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts, zombies and many other classic horror monsters are imaginatively recreated within the pages of this surprisingly morbid coming of age tale, I would describe it as a PG-13 version of The Witcher. The main character Thomas and his mentor known as the Spook even remind me of Geralt and Vesemir in their early days, Thomas's relationship with a peculiar witch named Alice is also reminiscent of Geralt's relationship with Yennefer. The story is completely different and original of course, the similarities are actually quite enjoyable without feeling like carbon copies of each other at all. I really enjoyed it.
If you're looking for dark ambient music that's perfect for reading horror, thrillers, dark fantasy and other books like this one, then be sure to check out my YouTube Channel called Nightmarish Compositions: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPPs...
This was pretty good! I enjoyed it. It wasn't much and it wasn't complicated but I liked this as a simple middle grade fantasy series. I don't have a lot to say about it, but I will likely continue with the series!
"Baukov šegrt" je prva od 13 knjiga u serijalu, kod nas je naravno i jedina prevedena (hvala Goodreadsu i Googleu na postojanju). Pomalo mi je krivo zbog toga jer je ovo jedna od boljih knjiga za mlade koju sam pročitala u poslednjih nekoliko godina.
Pre svega, otvara nam se novi svet u kojem postoje raznolika bića za koje smo delimično čuli: veštice, bukavci, duhovi, a tu su i različite biljke koje je potrebno izučavati u okviru botanike i mnogo toga drugog. Kako bi se održao mir i zaštitili nedužni, sa zločestim i zlim stvorenjima na kraj izlaze bauci. Na početku ove priče upoznajemo se sa trinaestogodišnjim Tomijem, sedmim sinom sedmog sina (gle čuda), čija je sudbina da postane baukov šegrt. Obuka nije ni malo naivna, a put šegrtovanja i život bauka je samotan život uz puno odricanja i neprestane opasnosti. Najbolji pokazatelj jesu prethodni šegrti koji nisu završili svoju pet godina dugu obuku usled pogibije.
Sadašnji bauk je Gregori, bivši sveštenik koji godinama obučava šegrte. Prilično je rezervisan u početku i tek pomalo uspevamo da vidimo naznake njegove duhovitosti i pravog karaktera. Kao učitelj je obazriv i strog, što donekle obeshrabruje Tomija. Kada načini grešku i oslobodi vešticu, lekcije koje je dobio od bauka su mu pomogle da zaštiti porodicu i spasile život. Shvatajući da ima potencijal za bauka, Tomi odlučuje da nastavi sa obukom.
Način na koji je predstavljena dečja naivnost i činjenje grešaka donosi olakšanje i utehu čitaocu, pokazujući mu da ne postoji nerešivih problema već samo neadekvatan pristup njihovom rešavanju. Pravi pristup savladavamo kroz iskustvo, a njega opet stičemo kroz ceo život. Kao važna lekcija izdvaja se poverenje, pre svega u sebe, a potom i u druge. Zbog toga su mi najdragoceniji bili razgovori koje je Tomi vodio sa svojom majkom, uz njenu konstataciju da niko ne može biti usamljen jer uvek imamo sami sebe.
Bah!, nada nuevo ni especialmente bien contado. Brujas secuestraniños y un aprendiz de brujo ( en terminología Sapkovskiana) que aquí llaman Espectro. Lo dicho, prescindible. Tres estrellas porque al menos me lo he acabado. ¡Anda, si hay peli del libro! Pues para la famosa madre del topo.
As Goodreads has grown it seems there are more and more people looking for recommendations for YA series in a similar vein to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. As you can guess from the tangent I'm making: this is one of those books.
If you're not into Dark Young Adult Fantasy then it may take you a minute to adjust to this book. And I must warn you that the series gets darker and darker - highlighting the 'adult' part of young adult. But all that said, there is a film adaptation on the way, along with the final book and the series constantly has heroes which are good despite certain compromises.
In fact, it is the battle between what is 'good' and 'evil' (characterised by Light and Dark) which drives the entire series. At times compromises are made for the good of the world in which the series is set and at times evil seems to win out with good finally triumphing at a cost. Yet, the storytelling is not found in the final foregone conclusions. It is found in the ability of Joseph Delaney to spin and hold the reader with twists and turns. It is the suspenseful atmosphere and the horror of the tale which are the true hallmarks of a great storyteller. In short it is a wonderfully written series of stories.
Fully recommended for those looking for the next Young Adult series that they haven't read yet. In this particular novel you will meet the characters - for the most part; be introduced to some key secrets; meet a couple of the villains (witches) and in general get a real taste for the wonderfully spooky world-building of Delaney. This is the perfect mature, subtle and brilliant young adult series in my view that is remarkably, wonderfully consistent in its brilliance.
SPOILER FREE I picked up The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney as a kid when I’d run out of Harry Potter! I was immediately sucked in and fell in love with the characters and the fantasy world.
Thomas Ward is the young hero of The Spook’s Apprentice. He’s the seventh son of a seventh son which gives him special gifts that can be used to fight the Dark.
He can see and sense things that others can’t, so he is apprenticed to the local spook whose job it is to protect The County from witches, boggarts, ghosts and other things that go bump in the night.
I love the master/apprentice plot when it’s done right, and The Spook’s Apprentice does it so well. Thomas is soon learning about witches from his master, John Gregory, as well as learning Latin. Before long, he meets Alice, and trouble soon follows.
The pacing in this book is fantastic. We move from plot point to plot point smoothly, never jolting around like a lot of children’s fantasy can. Certain things are foreshadowed well, so that when they do happen, we were almost expecting them.
This is a fantastic first book for The Wardstone Chronicles fantasy series. It introduces some of our main characters as well as a few mysteries we want to discover more about. This introduction to the world offers us a glimpse at just how epic in scope the story can be further down the line.
This may be a children’s book, but I recently reread it and found myself lost in The County once again. It’s a fantastic story which I think more people should get into. Ignore the film though: that was terrible!
I read this in the hopes it would be something my son might want to read. I'm thinking this wouldn't really be his thing, though. The setting is 'old-timey' and the writing is a bit dry compared to what he normally seems to prefer. I had a pretty easy time putting it down, and considering it took me three days to read 160 pages? Yeah...I'm probably not going to be passing this one on to him.
Anyhoo, this would probably work for a kid who is looking for a spooky series, and doesn't mind the above mentioned things. Depending on your kid, this could either be too scary or not scary enough. For my son it wouldn't be a problem, but I think it's probably wise for parents to preview it first...'cause nobody likes those midnight 'Can I sleep with you?' moments.
Okay...first let give a sort of introduction. I liked this book, and that's a relief as the last several YA books I've read have been, disappointing. Since I read the Harry Potter books (each as it came out) "with" my own children (though they were grown by the time the series completed) I've continued occasionally reading a YA book as some of them are excellent and not to be missed...even if "we" are old, grown-up, and decrepit. LOL
Now as to this book. I considered giving it a lower rating, and after this I'll say why. First I want to say I like the book. It's a good idea, it's handled well, and well told. I wanted to say all that as some might wonder why I'd rate a book 4 stars and then spend a lot of time on it's failings. Well, it's because a lot of what "I" found wanting here "may" be because I am an adult and have read literally thousands of books. What I find predictable or even a little trite may not be so to others, especially younger readers...
So, here goes.
Yes, this is a good book. BUT I would be sure that the "youth" reading it has a good "reality concept". In spite of my own local public library calling it or rating it "juvenile" I'd say the description "young adult" would be more apt. There are a lot of fairly "creepy" scenes including danger to children and reference to the death of children.
There is the slightly negative view of religion here that has become so prevalent of late, but it's mild and left open to later interpretation/reinterpretation in later books. The view seems to be based on the kind of negative impression that can be left by "religious" folk of an overly legalistic or judgmental mindset.
And some parents may share those views, so to them it may not seem as much of a problem.
I'd say these and any other "drawbacks" could be handled by a parent/guardian/responsible adult who loves the young person in question reading the book either with or before the youth and being ready to explain, discuss and otherwise guide the said youth.
Although clearly written as a children's book (over explanation and reminders of what has previously occurred) - it is quite dark, with bone witches and strip the flesh from fresh corpses and blood witches that drain blood from living children, eat babies and make blood cakes to increase their strength. It does a good job of watering these parts down, but they are still there, I would not recommend it for it's target audience, and it definitely would not be night time reading for that age unless you wanted to encourage nightmares. I think it would be fine for teenagers, though they would NOT find the writing style challenging enough. I think it is definitely darker than the early Harry Potter books, and I am also not a particular fan of those for the target audience. I enjoyed it as a light book for an adult, and will save full judgement until I have seen more of the series, which I will continue with. (It has a different title for the US market)
[3.5 Stars] This is a fun start to long middle grade series. I've been wanting to give it a go for a long time, but I recently saw Anita (Anita Reads) read it, giving me the final push I needed. I enjoyed this about as much as I expected to, which is good news for me. I have a new series I'll be slowly making my way through.
I remember seeing the movie whenever that came out, and I'm glad the book is pretty different. I'm definitely interested to see how Tom will interact with witches throughout the series and to see what other creatures and beings he'll have to deal with. This is one of those series I would categorize as "fun" reads.
I liked the messages of sticking to your commitments, trusting your instincts (even if they can get things incorrect from time to time), giving people the benefit of the doubt, and others, so I look forward to seeing what other lessons Tom learns from Old Gregory next.
Vraiment très sympa ! C'est jeunesse, mais certains moments font frissonner, et l'univers en général est très intéressant, avec diverses créatures maléfiques, et une ambiance qui s'assombrit... Je lirai avec plaisir la suite à l'occasion ! Mention spéciale pour les petits bonus de mon édition: une carte, une présentation des personnages, des pages du carnet de Tom...
Wow. This was fantastic. I was very happy to learn there are 12 other books in this series (13 all together) that I plan on reading. I thought Delaney did a great job with character development, world building, and the illustrations were top notch and were definitely appreciated. I also enjoyed the book within a book we get at the end when we can read Thomas's diary and notes on what Old Gregory (Spook) has taught him so far.
"Revenge of the Witch" follows 13 year old Thomas Ward as he is off to apprentice himself to the Spook for the County (Old Gregory is his name). The Spook fights against those in the dark that ordinary people cannot. Since Thomas is the 7th son of a 7th son with a mother who is.....something he seems like the perfect fit. We follow Thomas as he learns about the things that go bump in the dark and how he help push back the darkness.
So I loved Thomas, Spook, Thomas's mother, Alice, etc. The characters in this first book were so well developed.
I liked that you got Thomas's fear as he was learning about things that would happily kill him and what befell Spook's last apprentice. But he is brave and determined to not let anyone get hurt when a trio of witches that are nearby are set upon letting loose their most dangerous member.
Spook is mysterious and I am sure Delaney is going to reveal more about him as we go along.
I was very curious about Thomas's mother. We know she's something, but just guessing at it for now.
I felt for Alice and I think we will be seeing her again. I liked her blossoming friendship with Thomas and her knowing what she was doing was bad, but has no way to stop it.
The writing was really easy to follow (thank God...after the last book I read, I needed that). Delaney does a great job world building. We learn about ghasts, which are different from ghosts and the types of witches there can be out there in the world.
I thought the flow worked. The chapters are sometimes quite short, but the illustrations are wonderful. Delaney wrote this for middle school children, but as an adult, I have to say I enjoyed it too.
The setting is I assume an England in a different type of place/world. It's kind of mimicking an England in the Middle Ages, but with a twist.
The ending was great and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
I read this for Halloween Bingo 2021, "Grave or Graveyard" square.
A mature middle-grade fantasy—sporting a medieval feel and steeped in an eerie English folklore ambiance which, at times, drifts over the line into horror.
The story is told exclusively in the first-person past tense perspective of Tom Ward, the latest (and allegedly last) apprentice to the local “Spook.” Tom’s heritage and precise birth order (7th son of a 7th son) have qualified him as a banisher of things that go bump in the night. But Tom is a kind-natured, naive boy. And he has an awful lot of growing to do if he’s to survive his apprenticeship…
A gothic, paranormal sort of work that should appeal well enough to the entire range of a YA audience—despite the MC’s technical age. The prose is simple yet strong, and the telling is engaging. Delany has constructed a dreary, dangerous world and a sympathetically innocent character with which readers must navigate. Themes of friendship, honesty, courage, resourcefulness, and the extending of grace, all feature prominently.
Content Note: The horror aspects, though relatively brief, may be too intense for a younger MG audience. While not gory or gratuitous in any way, there ARE references to horrific violence committed against women and the brutal murder of small children. I’d advise a 12+ rating.
My biggest qualm regarding the plot centers around Tom’s mother. The woman obviously has some preternatural inclinations—prophesy being among her curiously innate abilities. She knows from the time of Tom’s birth what he will become. Indeed, she indicates to Tom’s master that she bore him specifically to serve that purpose. Yet, she’s apparently done nothing to ready Tom for any of the dangers and horrors she knows he will have to face. One would think a loving mother might have wanted to increase his odds of survival with a little advanced education. But, no. She’s sent a clueless adolescent boy off with no advantages outside of those that may lie hidden in his as-yet-indeterminate bloodline. That aspect became the biggest challenge to suspending my disbelief. (In all honesty, I doubt this is anything a younger audience would notice or be bothered by.)
A prime pick for those in the YA range looking for something darker, that still manages to leave much to the imagination. I’ll be glad to try out book 2 and see where the author seems to be taking this rather prolific series.
This “young adult” book actually offers more chills and thrills than adult horror books I have read. Surprisingly well written. There were moments that actually made me have that feeling we all know of when we are watching a horror movie and we want to cover our eyes. The language and words the author chose made for a very eerie atmosphere.
In my limited experience in reading horror (Stephen King, John Saul) I have rarely gotten frightened by anything I have read. Though when it comes to movies I am wimp. This book, and this author, made me realize why this is.
Often times it is not what we see that scares us. But what we don't see. It is not what we read. But what we don't read.
And many times it is what we hear but don't see that makes us want to hide under the covers.
Something this book did very well.
Recommended to children who are not easily frightened. For those who love horror but aren't quite ready for their parents and older siblings favorites but ready for something a little scarier than Goosebumps.
A bit of warning. It isn't a “safe” book. Bad things happen. Bad things are mentioned. And there is no easy “happily ever after”. Probably not a good first introduction into horror.
Though that is also my only complaint. The end. It seemed (to me) as though the author took the safe route when he should have “just gone for it”.
For those of you who have read it:
I also recommend it to those parents and older siblings themselves. I think any horror fan, of any and all ages, would enjoy this.
I am actually tempted to file this one under “horror” and not “young adult”.
How did I not know about this series sooner? I mean, I vaguely remember seeing them in bookstores . . . but NO ONE has told me to read them! I picked this up when I saw the trailer for the (rather silly-looking) movie version that is coming with Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes. And what did I find? An excellent fantasy adventure, set in a place that feels very much like witch-hunt era England (or even America), about a young man who is apprenticing as a witch hunter. It was fast-paced, it was pretty spooky, and I instantly loved Thomas, Mr. Gregory, and was curious about Thomas' mother . . . who clearly has secrets! Will definitely be reading on!
Spook’s is such a quaint English tale that it almost disarms you when the real horror begins.
Spook’s Apprentice is was a YA debut novel by Joseph Delaney, so I’ll be find *crosses heart*. Spook’s is one of those a-typical British fantasy novels, where it takes a lot of influences through the English countryside and English mannerisms (J R R Tolken, C S Lewis etc). It reminded me of sitting in front of the TV when I was 10, watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe being scared half to death while using the cushion as a shield against the evil things – the oxymoron here was that I couldn't keep my eyes off what was happening, so I had to watch it. In some ways this novel is similar. Much to my surprise there is no real structural fantasy like you find in most of the genre. Magic isn’t a thing – the powers we find are more apotropaic (I've the Eye of Horus tattooed on my right arm, it’s a load of cods-wallop!) and natural magic – so fundamental interaction. Like a natural remedy your mum or nan might have given you when you were a kid (for example – thyme has natural antibiotic/septic in it, Lemon for stings and some burns etc).
Before we begin properly, there are some things you need to know. Read and learn -
Rules to become a Spook’s apprentice - 1. Always rely on your own two feet. 2. Woolly socks and comfortable boots will be needed. 3. Always write down what you see, hear and do. 4. Compliment the cook from time to time. 5. There are many types of Boogarts’ – hairy, free and bound. Some like to cook! 6. There are many types of witches –malevolent, free, unaware and bound - don’t trust the ones with pointy shoes! 7. How to artificially bind a Boogart – a stone the size of the Boogart Iron and blood to attract the damn thing. Lots of luck!
Now you get an idea, the ‘magic’ is all rather quaint, but when it comes to the actuality of dealing with something, it doesn't feel right. Why? Mainly because I'm use to the protagonist walking up to something so meaningless and whacking him with some kind of Earth shattering spell – just because he can. That doesn't mean to say I didn't enjoy Spook’s Apprentice far from it my dear fellow, it’s a jolly tale!
As you can guess a Spook deals with what lurks within the dark! They aren't the most popular of folks, it’s a lonely life. One that Thomas (or Tom) finds himself thrust into. Being the seventh son of the seventh son is a real bugger – he was made for this, in more ways than one. His mother (who I suspect is a witch herself – if that is a spoiler, I apologies, but it feels like an uneducated guess! I've not actual met any witches.) made sure to have seven sons for this reason.
Lovely – so the story itself revolves around Tom and his tutor Mr. Spook (he doesn't have a name yet, so Mr seemed fitting) giving him lessons on what to do and not what to do as a Spook. Tom has to grow up in a short space of time and face ‘things’ that he is in no way prepared for – including trusting women with pointy shoes! I know, he did what he wasn't meant to do! The tale really begins to take a darker turn once Alice, Bony Lizzie and Old Mother Malkin, all witches of varied sorts – it’s like a pick-a-mix of witches here. I was completely unprepared for those cakes which were supposedly made from the blood of babies – blimey! It was all Tom’s fault, see he did something behind the Spook’s back, he made a promise to a witch and was bound to follow through with it. Why did he follow through with it? Well, because he is both an idiot and gentleman at the same time.
Now the back of the book does say “don’t read this after dark” – I can see why it might have that warning. Spook’s Apprentice does get jumpy in parts, to my delight. I'm a big fan of that in literature as it hardly happens to me reading a book. Some of the characters are eerily dark as well. Mother Malkin really is a match for some of those twisted witches from ancient Greek mythology (Erichtho, Graeae/Morai and Hecate – Erichtho especially is a twisted one, according to Professor Daniel Ogden anyway – yes I studied a module called “The Dark Arts – Magic & Witchcraft” back in the day). Malkin’s sister, Bony Lizzie is mentioned in the novel often, but hardly seen until the end – sometimes the unseen but heard-of has ample affect to cause fear. Alice is the daughter of Bony Lizzie, she becomes paramount in the story and certainly gets Tom involved deeper than he would have liked. I liked Alice, but then again I liked Mother Malkin for her unholy vigour – a nice balance between an evil witch and a witch growing up plays out.
What you don’t get with Spook’s Apprentice are profound quests, a world-spanning adventure. The Spook’s are just there, because no one else can and will do the tasks they do. Possibly because it reads like bloody hard work and haphazard at times. It’s a rather unique fantasy novel in that respect. I can see why they changed the film adaptation from the novel so much – it’s a slow burner in comparison. But why rush the read, I find it hard to swallow those writers who shove everything down your throat within twenty pages, literally. No I’d rather savour the meal, in that I’d have a better recollection of what happened. Some writers are guilty of this. Whether it is because readers are impatient and are catering towards that audience or it’s just the way they write – it’s a difficult one to say for sure. I would like to think, on a whole, that readers these days can still use their imagination and not have to have the writers’ creativity forced upon them in a lazy way. Can I fault the writer for that? No, not by a long shot. Are there any faults with the novel – plenty, but this was a debut novel, so nit-picking just seems like I'm being petty.
I was summarizing there and went slightly (WAY) off-track. Spook’s Apprentice is a child’s tale, some of the best stories I've read and heard stem from children stories – I know I was scared, but in equal measure excited by such yarns when I was a nipper. Joseph Delaney has something special with The Wardstone’s Chronicles and I cannot wait until the next in the series (well I think there are currently 9-10 out, so lots to read).
Es war spannend, schaurig und gruselig - und ich fand es überragend! ABER: das ist definitiv nichts für schwache Nerven und auch KEIN KINDERBUCH! Ich hab mich echt gegruselt. Die Warnung, es nicht abends zu lesen, sollte man beherzigen😄😄 Allerdings hab ich auch manchmal laut gelacht, wenn der Spook seine Weisheiten über Frauen rausgehauen hat. Einmal ging es ungefähr so (S. 88):
Spook: Vertraue niemals einer Frau! Tom: Meine Mutter ist eine Frau und ich vertraue ihr! Spook gibt zu: Mütter sind in der Regel Frauen und vertrauenswürdig gegenüber ihren Kindern...
Ich hab mich so weggeschmissen😂 Dabei glaube ich, dass der Spook das ganz ernst meinte, ich fands trotzdem sehr witzig😁
Ich empfehle dieses Buch jedem, der gerne gruselige Geister- bzw. Hexengeschichten liest und keine Angst im Dunkeln hat😉