The Wardstone Chronicles
|Illustrator||UK - David Wyatt
UK - Julek Heller
US - Patrick Arrasmith
US - Tim Foley
US - Julek Heller
|Publisher||UK - The Bodley Head division of Random House
UK (paperback) - Red Fox
US - Greenwillow Books division of HarperCollins
|No. of books||16|
The Wardstone Chronicles (published as The Last Apprentice series in the USA) is a dark fantasy series of books written by British author Joseph Delaney and published in the UK by The Bodley Head division of Random House Publishing.
The Wardstone Chronicles follow Thomas "Tom" Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son who is apprenticed to John Gregory to become a Spook - a master fighter of supernatural evil. John Gregory is the Spook for "the County" and gives Tom practical instruction on tackling ghosts, ghasts, witches, boggarts, and all manner of other things that serve "The Dark". Tom soon discovers that most of John Gregory's apprentices have failed for various reasons, including being killed in the process of learning how to be a Spook. As the Chronicles progress the focus expands to other characters such as the assassin Grimalkin and the young witch Alice Deane; overall the series develops the plot line of Tom being destined to either save the world or destroy it.
"The County" referenced in the Chronicles is based on Lancashire in the North of England. Various County fictional towns are thinly-veiled modern day cities; for example, the town of Priestown is based on Preston (where author Delaney was born); Caster is Lancaster; Black Pool is Blackpool; Chipenden is Chipping.
The Wardstone Chronicles concluded in 2014, and are followed by The Starblade Chronicles which are a planned trilogy following the continued adventures of Tom Ward, who has finished his apprenticeship and is now a Spook in his own right dedicated to fighting an unparalleled evil threatening the County, and the world.
The Wardstone Chronicles and The Starblade Chronicles are jointly referred to as The Spook's Series.
The Wardstone Chronicles/The Last Apprentice
- The Spook's Apprentice (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch) - 2004
- The Spook's Curse (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane) - 2005
- The Spook's Secret (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Night of the Soul Stealer) - 2006
- The Spook's Battle (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Attack of the Fiend) - 2007
- The Spook's Mistake (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Wrath of the Bloodeye) - 2008
- The Spook's Sacrifice (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Clash of the Demons) - 2009
- The Spook's Nightmare (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Rise of the Huntress) - 2010
- The Spook's Destiny (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Rage of the Fallen) - 2011
- Spook's: I Am Grimalkin (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Grimalkin The Witch Assassin) - 2011
- The Spook's Blood (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Lure of the Dead ) - 2012
- Spook's: Slither's Tale (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Slither) - 2013
- Spook's: Alice (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: I Am Alice) - 2013
- The Spook's Revenge (Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice: Fury of the Seventh Son) - 2014
Joseph Delaney has also written spin-off novels and short stories set in the world of The Wardstone Chronicles:
- The Spook's Tale / Interception Point - This short story was combined with Mark Walden's Interception Point as part of a small (128 pages) special publication for World Book Day UK 2009 which could be purchased at that event for a £1 coupon. - 2009
- The Last Apprentice: The Spook's Tale And Other Horrors - A collection of four short stories [The Spook's Tale; Alice's Tale; Grimalkin's Tale; A Gallery of Villians]; this is a USA-released compilation incorporating the earlier published The Spook's Tale. - 2009
- The Spook's Stories: Witches - A collection of four short stories [Meg Skelton; Dirty Dora; Alice And The Brain Guzzler; The Banshee Witch]. Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice - A Coven of Witches. - 2009
- The Spook's Bestiary - A guidebook to the creatures found in The Wardstone Chronicles universe. Published in the USA as The Last Apprentice - The Spook's Bestiary: The Guide to Creatures of the Dark. - 2010
A noteworthy feature of the USA-released books are the illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith; in addition to the cover art, Arrasmith designed pen and ink drawings which precede every chapter in the books. 
In 2014, Stephen Delaney, Joseph Delaney's son, adapted The Spook's Apprentice into a 160-page play script; it is published under the title The Spook's Apprentice - Play Edition.
- Thomas Ward, apprentice to John Gregory and the seventh son of a seventh son.
- John Gregory, the Spook for the County who mentors Tom.
- Alice Deane, a witch who becomes Tom's closest friend.
- Mam, Tom's mysterious mother, the original Lamia witch.
- Bill Arkwright, the Spook for the county north of Caster, and a previous apprentice of John Gregory.
- Grimalkin, a witch assassin that formed an alliance with Tom and the Spook to destroy The Fiend.
- John Ward, Tom's father, who saved his mam.
- Tibb, the mysterious creature of The Dark who can see into future.
- Morgan, the necromancer who tried to summon Gogolth.
- Meg Skelton, the mysterious witch that lives in John Gregory's winter house in Anglezarke.
- The Fiend, the "Devil".
Popularity & Reception
The Wardstone Chronicles are published in 25 countries: UK, USA, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Thailand, and Turkey. Sales of the Chronicles have exceeded 1 million copies.
Critical reception of the series has been positive, with two of the books in the series making the ALSC's 2006 list of "Notable Videos/DVDs, Recordings, Software, and Subscription Services" and the YALSA's list of "Fabulous Films & Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults" for 2009. The Spook's Apprentice was the winner of both the Sefton Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award.
Adaptations & Audiobooks
A 2015 film adaptation of The Spook's Apprentice was produced by Legendary Pictures and directed by Sergey Bodrov and entitled Seventh Son. Ben Barnes starred as the main protagonist Thomas Ward. The other cast members were Jeff Bridges as John Gregory (the Spook), Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin, Alicia Vikander as Alice Deane, Kit Harington as Billy Bradley, Djimon Hounsou as Radu (an original character), and Antje Traue as Bony Lizzie.
Audiobook versions of the series (unabridged) have been released in both the UK and the USA. The UK audiobooks were produced by Random House Audio. Jamie Glover read Book 1 and Will Thorp read Book 2. Thomas Judd read Books 3 through 8 and Book 10. Gabrielle Glaister read Book 9, Toby Longworth and Kate Harbour jointly read Book 11, and Annie Hemingway read Book 12. Random House Audio also produced an abridged version of The Spook's Apprentice which is read by Daniel Weyman.
The USA audiobooks were produced by Harper Audio. Christopher Evan Welch read Books 1 through 10, and he was joined by Angela Goethals in reading Book 11. Welch also read the short story collection The Spook's Tale And Other Horrors. Welch died of lung cancer in 2013. Angela Goethals read Book 12 and Alexander Cendese read Book 13.
- "The Random House Group - Joseph Delaney Biography". Retrieved 2014.
- "Spooks World Website". Retrieved 2014.
- "BBC - Lancashire People Interview". Retrieved 2014.
- "Spooks Books (The Wardstone Chronicles Official Website)". Retrieved 2014.
- "Fantasy Book Review of The Spook's Tale". Retrieved 2014.
- "Patrick Arrasmith Illustration - Last Apprentice Series". Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "The Random House Group". Retrieved 2014.
- "Joseph Delaney Biography from Fantasy Book Reviews". Retrieved 2014.
- "Book review: The Spook’s Bestiary by Joseph Delaney". Isle of Man Today. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "September 2012 reviews". School Library Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "ALSC's 2006 Notable Videos/DVDs, Recordings, Software, and Subscription Services for Children". School Library Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "2009 YALSA Fabulous Films & Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults". School LIbrary Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "Love Reading For Kids - Joseph Delaney Biography". Retrieved 2014.