Revenge of the Witch: The Last Apprentice, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

Stalwart tween fights dark forces in deliciously scary read.





What parents need to know

Educational value

A glossary describes different types of creatures such as witches, ghosts, and boggarts. The lore in Revenge of the Witch invites comparison with stories of dark forces from different cultures and literary traditions.

Positive messages

Following your own instincts and facing your fears head-on are the two strongest messages. While the Spook's advice not to trust women is misogynistic, he offers wise counsel to Tom about doing their job: "We need courage and patience, but above all, we never rush. We use our brains, we think carefully, then we do what has to be done."

Positive role models

Thoughtful and brave, 12-year-old Tom always thinks about rightness and duty. Reluctant to be the Spook's apprentice at first, he comes to understand how important his job is -- even if the community ostracizes him for doing it. The Spook's a good mentor to Tom.


Many scary scenes, the worst of which involves a character tied up all night in an open grave after being given a potion to induce terrifying hallucinations, including a giant worm and a corpse invading the pit. Suggestions that witches will drink the blood of missing children; frightening descriptions of witch attacks, including possessing victims by oozing into their nose or ear. The Spook disposes of dark, evil beings, binding and burying them in his garden. Naratives tell of past violence that led to hauntings: prisoners hanged; a man who buries his wife alive in the basement and then kills himself; an apprentice who dies of blood loss, but not before a boggart eats his fingers. Local witches are said to have killed children and pregnant women and ground up their bones; a mother and baby die in childbirth. One creature dies from a blow to the head; pigs tear another apart.


Some hand-holding.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Revenge of the Witch is the first book in the popular Last Apprentice series, the "inspiration" for a 2015 movie called Seventh Son. But the movie ages the main character up; in the book, he's 12. And while the movie seems to feature a lot of creature violence and swordplay, the book focuses more on suspense and creepiness. Make no mistake: There's frightening stuff here: Witches try to possess humans, and another witch dumps her prey in a pit and forces him to have hallucinations about giant worms and vengeful corpses. But beyond the horror, there are strong positive messages: Thoughtful Tom is very concerned with rightness and duty; his mentor offers much sage advice, especially on trusting instincts and facing fears.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Tom's the youngest of seven brothers. With the eldest married and running the family farm, and the others all in apprenticeships, it's Tom's turn to leave home to earn his keep. As the seventh son of a seventh son, he's sensitive to dark forces, and thus uniquely qualified to become the apprentice of a much-feared traveling man called the Spook, who battles and binds witches, boggarts, and other foul creatures. On a monthlong trial, Tom proves he's braver than most when he passes the Spook's test in a haunted house. But that's just the beginning: The Spook's house is surrounded by the creatures he's bound there, and one powerful witch, through Tom's unwitting help, is getting stronger by the day.

Is it any good?


Refreshingly fast-paced, REVENGE OF THE WITCH doesn't waste a moment. After one chapter, Tom's on the road with his new master, and soon spending a deliciously creepy night alone in a haunted house. The book slows down just enough when they arrive at the Spook's house and Tom's studies start in earnest.

In his YA debut, adult fantasy writer Joseph Delaney expertly lays on the suspense. No nail will be left unbitten by the end.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the scary stuff. How scary is Revenge of the Witch compared with other books you've read? What was the scariest part? Does anyone in the family think it's too scary?

  • Why do you think the producers of Seventh Son made Tom so much older in the movie?

  • At least two more great fantasy book series -- Septimus Heap and The Dark Is Rising -- feature main characters that are the seventh son of a seventh son. What's special about that birth order in stories you know?

Book details

Author:Joseph Delaney
Illustrator:Patrick Arrasmith
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Greenwillow Books
Publication date:July 25, 2006
Number of pages:384
Publisher's recommended age(s):13 - 17
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Revenge of the Witch: The Last Apprentice, Book 1 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byBrij1234 March 1, 2015
Kid, 12 years old January 19, 2015


i loved it and read it super fast.
Adult Written bymama bos March 31, 2015

No way this should be JF book!

This is a very well written book with an interesting plot and good story. However, it is probably one of the more scary books I have ever read. There is no way it should be shelved in the juvenile fiction part of the library - definitely more young adult. I read it before passing it on to my almost 13 year olds and am very glad I did! We will be holding off for at least another 2 years on this one!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence


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