--Book 1 of The Last Apprentice series (AKA The Wardstone Chronicles in the UK)
Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal Fiction/Horror
Date Published: September 2005
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Bookmooch trade
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book description (from the publisher):
Capturing witchesBinding boggartsDriving away ghosts
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.
Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook's warning against girls with pointy shoes include Alice? And what will happen if Thomas accidentally frees Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the county ... ?
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I picked up this book after seeing some recommendations that mentioned that fans of Harry Potter would enjoy this series. So, being the HP fanatic that I am, I decided to give it a try. This series seems to go in a scarier direction than I was expecting, and given that I am a huge wimp about scary stories, it wasn't a great choice for me. It isn't necessarily a bad thing that this book was kind of scary--in fact, even though I was creeped out I still kept thinking about how original and different this book was. But even though this is just a Middle Grade book, it still was a bit too much for my scaredy-cat self. What is so scary about this book? Ghosts, baby-eating witches who want to kill the protaganist, possession, haunted houses... just a lot of spooky supernatural things that I can't really handle.
If I'm feeling especially brave and in the mood for a scary story, I might pick up the next book in the series at some time in the future. After all, I did find the characters intriguing, it was well-written, and very original. It was named New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and an ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults, so it's received awards. But just be warned, this series is not for the faint-of-heart!