Friday Book Review
by Kitty Griffin
The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch
Greenwillow Books, 2011
With the release of the movie, “Seventh Son” (Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore) I decided to look back at the book that inspired this movie, “The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch.” It's been a while since I've read the first book (now I'm on number 11 in the series) but these aren't books one easily discards. Delaney doesn't give you popcorn, something that passes through and is little remembered. No, he serves a full meal, only the meat is raw, in fact, a bit bloody. These are not characters that one forgets. Not at all.
I came across this series while looking for an audio book for a road trip. Didn’t have much time, read the back matter quickly and went for a ride. And what a ride. From the first chapter on the reader is dropped in the “County” a place where the most important man is a man who folks don’t like to look at. Folks don’t want to talk to him, either. That man is the keeper of the peace. He’s a “Spook.” He takes care of ghoulies, and ghosties, long-legged beasties, and things that go crunch in the night.
“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.”
With that line, and with the stunning line drawings of Patrick Arrasmith invite you in, the reader learns that the main character, 12 year old Thomas Ward, is the seventh son of a seventh son and he has a destiny. He is to be trained as a Spook. All begins quietly enough, that is, until Alice comes along. Alice, a young gal herself, manages to “trick” Thomas into freeing Mother Malkin, a witch so vile that she could eat Cruella DeVille as a snack before chowing down all 101 Dalmatians, fur, bones, and all.
This book is suggested for 10-14 year olds, however, make sure that any ten year old who receives it has a stomach for horror, because that’s what this is, an adventure (extraordinary) with a walloping dose of scare. In fact, I’d drop off the 14 year old age limit because I know plenty of adults who’d enjoy this series.
The trailer for the movie shows a young Tom with a beard. Not the twelve year old in the book. It also shows a dragon and some other monsters that I’m not so sure about. Julianne Moore looks absolutely outrageous as Mother Malkin and Jeff Bridges as the Spook, well, be still my heart.
So if you have an adventurous kid who enjoys books that push the boundaries, and this kid is pretty well grounded (doesn’t scare easily) I’d definitely recommend this series.
From the Author’s Blog:
Joseph Delaney is a retired English teacher. He has three children and nine grandchildren and is a wonderful public speaker available for conference, library and bookshop events. His home is in the middle of Boggart territory and his village has a boggart called the Hall Knocker, which was laid to rest under the step of a house near the church.
Most of the places in the Spook's books are based on real places in Lancashire. And the inspiration behind the stories often comes from local ghost stories and legends. http://www.spooksbooks.com/authorblog/
And here’s the link to the book trailers…perfect for Halloween!