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.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.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-11-14 It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Rid the county of boggarts, witches, ghosts and other evils, that is. And that's what the Spook's business happens to be. But current spook, Old Gregory, is getting on in years and he needs to train a successor. He takes on as his apprentice young Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son. Listeners are in for some chills, courtesy of Delaney's first book and Welch's commanding reading, in which he portrays the Spook with a good dose of sonorous gravitas and matter-of-fact superiority. The roles of hissing, spooky witches Mother Malkin and Bony Lizzie prove spinetingling entertainment. And with the skillful portrayals of the often fast-talking characters of Tom's mam, and his new friend (and future witch), Alice, listeners are intrigued, never sure what they're going to get. By recording's end, Tom seems especially well-suited to his burgeoning, unusual career, even though he's still terrified by his duties (and, yes, a little afraid of his boss). Luckily for listeners, there are more tales of Tom's adventures in the works. An enhanced CD feature here allows listeners to view and print "Tom Ward's Secrets for Survival" and other bonus materials on a personal computer. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2005-10-10 Delaney may plumb familiar subjects but expert storytelling and genuinely scary illustrations on Arrasmith's part keep this debut novel fresh. This first in a planned series, the Last Apprentice, introduces nearly 13-year-old narrator Tom, whose parents arrange for him to apprentice with the Spook, as their farm will be given to their eldest son. A haunting description gives readers a sense of why Tom might be fearful of the Spook, who roams the countryside, protecting farms and villages by supernatural means ("His long black cloak and hood made him look like a priest, but when he looked at you directly, his grim expression made him appear more like a hangman weighing you up for the rope"). However, as a seventh son, like his father, Tom "can see things that others can't," such as the corpses of long-ago hanged soldiers that moan and sway at the far end of his family's property. This is the stuff of skin-prickling campfire stories: Tom must overcome a series of trials to prove himself worthy of the apprenticeship. Readers can almost hear the thumps in the cellar of a haunted house where the hero must spend the night ("Who could have been digging down there in the darkness? Who could be climbing the stairs now? But maybe it wasn't a question of who was climbing the stairs. Maybe it was a question of what"). After readers race through this tantalizingly creepy tale of solitude and sorcery, they will clamor to learn about Tom's future adventures. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-17 A boy apprentices to the village Spook, who keeps the farms safe through supernatural means. "Expert storytelling and genuinely scary illustrations keep this debut novel fresh," said PW in a starred review. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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