The Spook's Apprentice

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The Spook's Apprentice
Book cover for The Spook's Apprentice
Author Joseph Delaney
Country Great Britain
Language English
Series The Wardstone Chronicles
Genre Children's fantasy novel
Publisher The Bodley Head
Publication date
Media type Print (hard & paperback)
Pages 325 pp
ISBN 0-09-945645-1
OCLC 60768078
Followed by The Spook's Curse

The Spook's Apprentice (American title: The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch), written by Joseph Delaney, is the first story in the series "The Wardstone Chronicles". The plot is centred on a 12-year-old farm boy named Tom who lives in the countryside of The County, loosely based on the English county of Lancashire, where the author resides[1] with his large family. As Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son he is able to see things others cannot, such as boggarts, ghasts, ghosts and others.


Tom Ward lived his whole life in the County (loosely based on the English county of Lancashire). Because he is the seventh son of a seventh son and thus has the ability to see ghosts and fight other supernatural beings, his parents have apprenticed him to the Spook, a cloaked man named John Gregory. The Spook travels the County fighting troublesome creatures such as boggarts, ghosts, ghasts and witches for the people who need these things gone. Tom will have to learn how the Spook fights "The Dark", so that he may one day become a Spook as well.

The Spook tells Tom that most of his other apprentices have failed due to them being cowardly, disobedient, or deceased. It is revealed that one of the deceased was Billy Bradley, who while fighting a particularly dangerous boggart had his finger bitten off and died from loss of blood. Tom goes to live in the Spook’s house in Chipenden. This house is protected from unwanted visitors by a boggart, with whom the Spook has made a contract which states that as long as the house is standing, the boggart must guard it (as well as cook and clean for the Spook and his apprentices).

Tom is sent out on an errand to pick up some food for the house. He is given a strict warning by the Spook: do not talk to women wearing pointy shoes. On his way home, some boys about the same age as Tom threaten to beat him unless he gives them some food. Tom refuses and the boys are about to beat him when suddenly a girl in pointy shoes shows up and scares them away by telling them a certain person is back. The mysterious girl's name is Alice, and she is a relative of some of the most dangerous witches in the County: Mother Malkin and Bony Lizzie. Bony Lizzie, with whom Alice lives, uses bone magic using the bones of those she kills.

Mother Malkin was one of the most sinister witches and used blood magic, a type of witchcraft that involves draining the blood of victims. She was called Mother Malkin for her strategy of welcoming young runaway women into a care home, and then sucking the blood of every girl there to make herself more youthful. The Spook imprisoned Mother Malkin in a pit in his garden with 13 iron bars on top that prevent her from digging her way out.

Soon Tom is tricked by his new friend Alice into giving Mother Malkin three cakes, one every night at midnight for three days. The cakes are filled with human blood. Mother Malkin becomes stronger and breaks out of her pit prison. The Spook is away, so Tom must re-capture the witch himself. Mother Malkin's son Tusk, a monster-like abhuman (a creature born to a witch and the Fiend – Satan - himself), joins her and Bony Lizzie in kidnapping and imprisoning Tom. Alice first tricks Tom, but as Bony Lizzie sharpens her knife to kill him, Alice pulls him out of the pit he was thrown in. The Spook returns home, kills Tusk with his staff, and captures Bony Lizzie. He then tests Alice to see whether or not she is evil; she is not, but the Spook still believes that she could become so.

Tom returns home to visit his family, only to realize that Mother Malkin has followed him. She possesses the body of the pig butcher on his family’s farm, but is thrust out of this body with the help of Alice, who kicks the butcher hard when his possessed body is about to murder Tom. Mother Malkin is 1/3 of her normal size because of the spell needed to inhabit another person, so Tom and Alice are able to kill her by chasing her into the pen of the hungry pigs, which eat her alive - including her heart. This ensures that she cannot return to the world again after death.

Tom, the Spook and Alice decide that Alice should go to Staumin to escape the dark influence of her witch relatives and Tom escorts her there. Tom then returns to Chipenden to resume his training as a Spook.


Film adaptation[edit]

Main article: Seventh Son (film)

The book was very loosely adapted into a 2014 film titled Seventh Son released in 3-D and IMAX 3D. Whilst most of the characters remain, their story has been much changed and expanded (presumably to better suit an older audience & the film's more 'epic' stature.) - It stars Ben Barnes,[2] Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore.[3] Sam Claflin and Alicia Vikander were cast as Tom Ward and Alice[4] but as of in June 2011 Variety revealed that Claflin had bowed out for unknown reasons and Ben Barnes was cast in his stead.

Other books[edit]

Tie-in books

Additional information[edit]


  1. ^ BBC
  2. ^ "The Seventh Son Gets Ben Barnes". Brian Gallagher. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  3. ^ Goldberg, Matt (21 March 2011). "Julianne Moore Joins Jeff Bridges in THE SEVENTH SON". 
  4. ^ Kroll, Justin (31 March 2011). "'Seventh Son' finds young leads". Variety (magazine). Retrieved 1 April 2011. 

External links[edit]