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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.