Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Revenge of the Witch

Happy Audiobook Month!

I loved The Ranger’s Apprentice and have been eager to read more by John Delancey. When I saw that a different series, The Last Apprentice, was available through the library’s Overdrive account, I was eager to enjoy the audiobook. What awaited me was the perfect level of horror for a middle grade reader.

The Revenge of the Witch follows Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son, who has very few options now that it is time for him to begin working. All of his older brothers have been placed in the desirable jobs, so Tom is left to become the Spook’s apprentice. In his training, he is to learn how to protect the local villages from boggarts, ghosts, and other evil spirits. Luckily, Tom has always found it easy to sense these things and his Mam tells him he was born for the job. But once the training begins and Tom gets on the bad side of an evil witch, he wonders if he should try to escape his destiny.

It’s challenging to write a scary book for middle grade readers. If it isn’t scary enough, they’ll complain that it’s for babies. If it’s too scary, they won’t finish it or they’ll have nightmares. Delancey manages to find the right balance. There is gore: flesh cakes and stories of skinning people; but the scares are more related to suspense: the sound of boots on the basement steps and walking through a graveyard where witches are buried. Christopher Evan Welch's narration of the audiobook is perfect, particularly the screeching witch's voice. He transported me to a gloomy British village, which is quite a feat since I listened to it on a Bahamian beach! 

I was happy to learn that there are many more books in this series. I'm eager to read them all and pass them along to my students who want to be scared, but not terrified. 

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