Friday, December 20, 2013

Seventh Son (the movie) and The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney--The Book-to-Movie Comes to Theaters 02-06-15!

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch
by Joseph Delaney. Currently available in
hardback, paperback, Audio (,
and in Kindle (e-book) editions. (Unabridged)[1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

      I obtained my copy of this e-book (for my Kindle read- er) on December 14, 2011 from Amazon. It was being offered to the general public as one of their free book downloads. I knew at that time the book series was geared for young people, grades five through eight or, roughly, ages ten through fourteen. Nonetheless, I seized the opportunity and grabbed this book because the series looked tantalizing, and besides, I just couldn't turn down a free book.

     I didn't read the book for quite a while and it sat on my e-book shelf gathering e-dust. When I finally did get to read the book, I found I had a few surprises coming to me. 

Thomas Ward becomes the Last
Apprentice in Revenge of the Witch,
by Joseph Delaney. [2]
     Tom Ward (our protagonist) comes from a family of farmers, and with seven boys, not all can inherit the land. So, the family places all but the oldest boy as apprentices in the community. Tom was the seventh son of a man who was, himself, a seventh son. Tom assumes it was his mother's money that purchased his family's farm, for how else could the seventh son of a man have afforded it? As a seventh son, Tom had precious few options. So, when he was thirteen, a "Spook" was called out to the farm, and Tom was given to him to be his apprentice. 

     A "Spook," according to Tom, was akin to a roving policeman who went throughout various communities, "...dealing with ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties...." It was the "Spook" who protected the little communities and farms from all manner of "...things that go bump in the night" (p. 3). Apparently, Tom will be the Spook's last chance to train an apprentice. Shouldn't Tom and his parents have asked what happened to the previous 29 apprentices? Since the Spook is aging and will not have time to train another, it doesn't look like good odds for Tom to survive or for the Spook to train a replacement.

Hangman's Hill: the trees had
"ghasts" hanging in them.[3]
 The next morning, in the company of the Spook as they leave the farm, Tom gets an object lesson in overcoming fear. Going up "Hangman's Hill," a hundred "ghasts" hanging in the trees seem to glare at Tom as he passes. The Spook, makes Tom look at one of the soldier "ghasts" and describe him. Tom closely examines the young soldier and soon is feeling sad for the soldier instead of feeling fear for himself. 

The witch (with
pointy shoes)
that Tom Ward
meets in the
village. The Last
Apprentice: Revenge
of the Witch
Joseph Delaney.[4]
     The Spook explains that being the "...seventh sons of seventh sons,...we have the gift of seeing things that others can't...If we're afraid, sometimes there are things that can feed on that fear. Fear makes it worse for us. The trick is to concentrate on what you can see and stop thinking about yourself. It works every time..." (p. 27). So begins Tom Ward's adventures into the life of an apprentice with a Spook, in the book, The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch.  

     This is the opening salvo into the book, and I don't really want to give away the whole plot. After all, the title of Book 1, is Revenge of the Witch, and so far, I've really given very little away regarding the major plot with the witch. What we have learned is the manner of Tom Ward's becoming apprenticed to the Spook, his first lesson in dealing with "ghasts," and in learning how to confront his own fears.

     The balance of the book involves more lessons for Tom and, of course, the major plot with the witch (or more appropriately, witches). Tom has some hard lessons ahead, and even some that involve family. What we do see by the end of the book is that Tom has made the psychological change from farm boy, morphing into an apprentice to a Spook.

'Do you know how I overcame my fear?' he asked. 'No sir.' [Tom replied. Then the Spook said:] 'One night I was so terrified that I screamed out before I could stop myself. I woke everybody up, and in a rage my father lifted me up by the scruff of my neck and carried me down the steps into this cellar. Then he got a hammer and nailed the door shut behind me. I wasn't very old. Probably seven at the most. I climbed back up the steps and, screaming fit to burst, scratched and banged at the door. But my father was a hard man, and he left me all alone in the dark...[a]fter a bit, I calmed down,...I walked down the steps and sat there in this cellar in the darkness. Then I took three deep breaths, and I faced my fear. I faced the darkness itself, which is the most terrifying thing of all' (p. 61).
Dark cellar where the Spook spent
the night in total darkness and
having to face his fear. The dark-
ness was the most terrifying
thing of all.[5]
 I chose this quote because, again, the Spook is teaching Tom about how to overcome fear. In doing so, it seems an object lesson for all of us. Facing fear makes the darkness retreat, concentrating on what you actually see takes you out of yourself and your fear and into rational thought. I don't know about Joseph Delaney's childhood, but it seems to me, he certainly can empathize with being a young man faced with the dark and noises that go bump in the night. Perhaps, as a boy, Joseph Delaney learned to face his own fear by facing the dark. In any event, not giving into over-emotionalism and staying rational is a great way to beat back the fear. I love his advice for all of us!

     First, this book has themes that are suppose to be scary, and yes the target reading audience is age ten through fourteen (or grades five through eight). If your child is sensitive to scary themes, then this book may not be appropriate. However, when I looked over the reviews that children made of this book, the children loved it and seemed to relish the nature of the story. If you are a parent who strictly regulates your child's reading topics, again, this book may not be appropriate--especially, if you restrict your child from reading about witches, monsters, or other scary topics.

I love this little cartoon because it just goes to show how we can
have a starting point in discussing how books impact us and
what we find in them that moves us. Sharing our viewpoints with
others and listening to other people's viewpoints is a wonderful
way to appreciate just how differently a book can be viewed! It can
also open us up to looking at things entirely differently than
we did before we shared our reading experiences.
Yeah! for book clubs! [6]
     At (as of the date of this posting), there are 157 reviews of this book, only 5 of those reviews are from children. The logical conclusion is that the rest of the reviewers are adults who have read the book. I, obviously, fit into this category. So, a lot of adults are reading this book though the target audience is much younger. One of the surprising things about the book is how enjoyable it was for me as an adult.   

     The author didn't seem to talk down to kids. And, while the writing style is simple, not being overly complex or utilizing big words or obscure words with unknown definitions, it was powerful in its presentation. The plot moved the story along, and while the characters were classical constructs of other characters we have seen in other literature, the story felt fresh. 
Seventh Son comes to theaters on
February 6, 2015. This poster of the movie
features Jeff Bridges as the "Spook."[7]
   I think, perhaps, it is because we are seeing through the eyes of Tom Ward, as he experiences things first hand, for the first time. We get to share with him his lessons learned and share a compassionate understanding for his mistakes. Somehow the themes in the book are universal and we just seem to understand and connect with them and with Tom.

     This wonderful book has been made into a movie, to be released February 6, 2015 (a year from now). You still have plenty of time to get the book and read it. To tantalize you just a bit, let's take a look at the trailer of the movie. The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch has been retitled as, Seventh Son.

     Jeff Bridges will star as the "Spook," Ben Barnes as Tom Ward, Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin, Antje Traue as Bony Lizzy, Alicia Vikander as Alice, and Primo Allon as Simon Ward. The Director is Sergey Bodrov, and the writers are Joseph Delaney (book), writers: Matt Geenberg, Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight and Max Borenstein; music is by Marco Beltrami and cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel. I hope you enjoy this little teaser trailer [8]:


    I always want to give books a good rating when I can--especially when I have really enjoyed the read. I did enjoy this book and because of it, I am looking forward to seeing the movie that the book is based upon. The name of that movie is: Seventh Son; not surprising since so much is made in the book of Tom's dad, the Spook, and Tom all being a "seventh son."

     My recommendations as to reading appropriateness, I actually have already given you at the top of the review. The only thing I have to add to that is that parents generally know the temperament and personality of their own children and can go from there. Parents can also discuss the book and themes with their child before giving the book to their child to read. Many children actually clamor for books to read like this one, and I think some valuable lessons are included in the book, especially the theme of dealing with fear.

4.5 stars out of 5--a good rating![9]
About the Author: Joseph Delaney.
Delaney knows about being an appren-
tice since he was an apprentice
engineer after leaving school. He was
educator for a while, and began
writing under the pseudonym of
J.K. Haderack. He stopped teaching
and began writing full time under his
real name. In the book, The Last
, "The County" is based on
Lancashire (England); Priestown is
"loosly based" on Preston where Delaney
was born; Blackpool is "Black Pool," and
Chipping is Chipenden. [10]
     Based on everything I've said above, I give this book a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. The book has a lot going for it, and, truthfully, I cannot wait to jump into the rest of the books of this series. Unfortunately, they must be deferred at least a little while since I am currently beginning Dean Koontz' new book, Innocence (just released December 10, 2013).

Pages: 384
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (December 13, 2011)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
ASIN: B00570S19U

     I hope you have enjoyed this week's posting of The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney. Join me again next week for another posting about books (and how much I really love them!). God bless you all. I hope you're Christmas is wonderful, joyous, safe, and loving. Tell everyone you love just how much you care for them; and take some time to appreciate all the good in your life--including you!

Until next time....   
Merry Christmas to everyone! [11]

...many happy pages of reading!



[1] Revenge of the Witch: The Last Apprentice,Book 1.” [by Joseph Delaney] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[2] "Last Apprentice Book Report." [tiff.wilson376] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[3] "Chapter One." [hangman's hill] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[4] "The Witch." [original source unknown] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[5] "Dark Cellar no bar." Retrieved 12-19-13.
[6] "COPE Training AOSW 2010." [cartoon] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[7] "Seventh Son Movie Poster Gallery." [poster of Seventh Son.] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[8] "Seventh Son Trailer." Retrieved 12-19-13.
[9] "Review for Darkness Shows the Stars." [4.5 stars graphic] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[10] "About the Author." Retrieved 12-19-13.
[11] "Christmas Candles." [Foto allikas:] Retrieved 12-19-13.