The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (Book 1) by Joseph Delaney

I’ve seen this series so many times that it seemed only right to try it.

Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son and his father needs to find him an apprenticeship. With little options left, his mother gets him apprenticed with the Spook, whose job it is to defend the village from dangerous creatures such as witches, boggarts, and ghasts. Twenty-nine have apprenticed to the Spook before and many have not managed to complete their apprenticeship (whether they quit or were killed) and this may be the last chance to train a new one. Is Tom prepared for the journey?

At first I didn’t particularly like the book. The first couple chapters seemed to cover a lot of information but I didn’t feel invested in it. For example, we know Tom is a seventh son but hear nothing about five of his brothers, which makes it hard to really get a feel for him. It took some time for the book to hit its stride, but once it did, it was much more enjoyable.

We follow Tom through his first missteps as he gets tricked by a girl in pointed shoes and must deal with evil blood witch Mother Malkin. Some of the mistakes Tom makes bring more questions on the Spook himself than on Tom (why is Tom left alone so often without proper supervision or sent with Alice himself when she is potentially dangerous?)

The strongest element in this book is the way it deals with good and evil. Rather than as absolutes, there is an in between that must be considered as well. Life is complex and he makes it clear that these issues are treated as such.

I don’t find the training element of this as extensive and clear as in other series (such as Ranger’s Apprentice) and this isn’t my favorite series of all, but I am curious to see where it goes. It’s probably a series I will pick up a book from on occasion, as opposed to Tamora Pierce’s Tortall novels which I bought as quickly as I could to read.

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