Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: The Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Title: The Revenge of the Witch
Author: Joseph Delaney
Series: The Wardstone Chronicles #1
Pages: 343
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Source: Unknown
For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried—some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope, the last apprentice.

My Review:
This is a much younger book than I normally review. The age level is a little difficult to determine because it's written for a middle grade audience, but has a lot of dark elements in it that make it more pre-teen/early young adult. I also don't really know where it came from. it more or less showed up on my bookshelf and none of my roommates know how it got there. I'm going to just assume it is a magical book and I was predestined to read it.

Like I said, the writing style was a little bit juvenille. There is a lot of repitition of basic facts and plot points that you can't help feel is designed so that younger readers won't have trouble remembering the important details. The actual descriptions are detailed but also dumbed down a little bit so that you can tell they are being made simpler so that those youngers will understand better. I don't think teenagers would really find the book to be challenging enough to keep them interested for a long time, but those in elementary and middle school might really enjoy it. I'm not sure if this series, like Harry Potter, will grow up as the characters do, but I have a hunch that they do. I know there are quite a few books in the series...not sure of the exact number, but they apparently go on until Tom comes of age so I look forward to seeing what happens with his character development.

The mood of this book is definitely tense and scary. I actually found myself getting creeped out a bit and had to turn on the hall light when I went to get some water. Some of the descriptions of maggoty coffins and rotting bodies were totally yuck-worthy! Now, I know I love that kind of sick disgusting stuff, but I'm not sure if the kids who are this book's intended audience would like that. It might be a little over their heads so parents should use discretion when reading their young-uns this book....So, being a Spook or a spook's apprentice is viewed very suspiciously by those that live in Tom's world. People need them to keep the boogey-men at bay, but they are also extremely superstitious about them and treat them like some people treat black cats or spilled salt. Tom has so many conflicting emotions regarding his apprenticeship that it's a little hard to keep up with him at times. He wants to succeed, he feels guilty for being his mother's favorites, and most of all his confusion and indecision with what to do with his life.

There is a real theme of growing up and coming of age in this book, which I thought was a bit surprising considering that it's the first of a series. Usually the first book has the MC floundering around in a new world and he is extremely childish. Tom already had a pretty good head on his shoulders, and he only got more and more grown up as the book went on. He struggles quite a bit with the idea of leaving his family, but in the end, the descision is kind of made for him and he's forced to let them go. In addition, he has to learn to depend on himself to get out of tricky situations which made him into a stronger and more developed character. I like the feeling of destiny, and how every moment of Tom's life seems to have led in inderect ways to his becoming a Spook.

I also liked how suspense and tension were used as tools to build up the plot and characters. There isn't anything that is to drastic or quick resolutions. Delaney really takes the time to weave a plot that is as logical as a plot full of witches, spooks, boggarts, and ghosts can be. Througout even the inital chapters theres a kind of aura of malevolence and unease that makes you kind of stressed, but in a good way. The sinister nature of the book isn't over the top or obvious, rather it's a quiet build up that leaves you feeling like someone just walked over your grave. The lines between good and evil are clearly drawn in this series. It's not like Harry Potter where some witches and wizards are good while others are bad and creatures like boggarts are harmless pests. Here, almost anything supernatural is straight-up evil and needs to be vanquished. The one exception seems to be good witches, and they are hard to find. Most of the witches like to drink blood and eat babies...*urghhh*
 I give Revenge of the Witch 3.5 Keys. I enjoyed the world building and story-telling, but it was just a little bit too juvenille for me. The repition got on my nerves and sometimes Tom would make descisions that were so bizzare and idiotic that I had trouble liking him as the main character. He grows on you though and the story is so thought-provoking and original that you can't help but want to read more. I reccommend this book for kids in the 10-13 range. It's a little immature for older kids, but then again, I really enjoyed it so I guess it depends on how childish you are at a great day lovelies! Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

  1. I have several nieces and nephews that I think would like this book because I see them reading this type of book most times.