JUNE 24:

  • Happy birthday Leonard Everett Fisher (The Great Wall of China), Kathryn Lasky (The Guardians of Ga’Hoole series), and Jean Marzollo (I Spy series).
  • It’s the birth date of John Ciardi (1916-1986), You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You.
  • In 1983, astronauts Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, returns from six-day mission on Challenger. Read To Space and Back by Sally Ride with Susan Oakie, Exploring Our Solar System and Mission: Planet Earth, both by Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy.
  • In 1997, the U.S. Air Force reports on the “Roswell Incident,” stating it was life-sized dummies, not aliens from a UFO, witnesses saw in 1947.

June has been designated Audio Book Appreciation Month. It’s the time of year when many families hit the road—and turn to an audio book in the car. The right audio can save countless repetitions of that familiar question: Are we there yet? One of the best audio books that I have listened to lately, the first book of Joseph Delaney’s The Last Apprentice series, Revenge of the Witch, certainly kept me happy on my last road trip.

Revenge of the Witch, which is ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds, first appeared in 2005. Immediately garnering a series of starred reviews, the book was quickly embraced by both adults and children for its nail-biting, pulse-pounding story. At age twelve Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, is apprenticed to Old Gregory, a Spook—someone who keeps the area free of witches, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. In this quasi-medieval England, Old Gregory tries out Tom for a month to see if he is made of the right stuff. At first Tom learns how to face his own fears, such as being left alone in a creepy house at night. Eventually, he must tackle more serious challenges—a real witch and her apprentice.

The unabridged recording of this book, narrated by Christopher Evan Welch, has been presented with little embellishment. Welch carries the narrative along simply by the use of his voice, pacing, and timing. So fine is his work as a narrator that the story seems even creepier read by him than it does on the page. I myself am a wimp when it comes to scary stories, and I did not listen after dark. But I was eager to start again in the morning; the story grabs the listener and does not let go. Whatever troubles a family might be having on a car trip, the recording will make any listener feel as though they have had an easy day indeed. It is no picnic being the apprentice to a Spook.

If you enjoy this offering, there are nine more volumes in the series. Anyone hunting for a literary horror novel can do no better than pick up The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch. But I do recommend doing so on bright summer days.

Here’s a passage from The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch:

My dad was a farmer and his father had been a farmer, too, and the first rule of farming is to keep the farm together. You can’t just divide it up among your children; it would get smaller and smaller with each generation until there was nothing left. So a farmer leaves his farm to his eldest son. Then he finds jobs for the rest. If possible, he tries to find each a trade.

He needs a lot of favors for that. The local blacksmith is one option, especially if the farm is big and he’s given the blacksmith plenty of work. Then it’s odds on that the blacksmith will offer an apprenticeship, but that’s still only one son sorted out.

I was his seventh, and by the time it came to me all the favors had been used up.                                     


Originally posted June 24, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Ghosts
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch


  1. Laura Fahrner says:

    Hi Anita, I love your recommendations for audio books. Do you have any other favorites? Did you know the Wolves of Willowby Chase is now an audio book read by Joan Aikin’s daughter? It is great to listen to! Thanks for your blog!

  2. Anita says:

    Laura: Thanks for the suggestion of the Wolves of Willowby Chase audio — one of my favorite books. This month I reviewed the Bloody Jack series, Curse of the Blue Tattoo, and I have reviews of the audios of The Golden Compass series and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing in the database.

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