Saturday, June 21, 2014

"The Revenge of the Witch" by Joseph Delaney


Today's readers love a good series. I am no exception. The only book that's difficult to get into is the first one -- every other book after that is child's play. There are so many series out there (or is it serieses? Series is singular, right?), and some of the most popular belong to the young adults.

In "Revenge of the Witch," we are introduced to the Spook -- a man about town that gets rid of creatures, witches, monsters that live under the bed, malevolent spirits, and many other personas that can be found in a book about the Dark Side.  The Spook is looking for an apprentice. Thomas Ward is looking for a job. He's the seventh son of the seventh son -- which means something spooktacular -- and instead of working on the farm or becoming a banker, or whatever his other brothers became, his trade is to learn the ways of the supernatural and how to keep them at bay. Thomas's mother knows this will be his destiny, but Thomas isn't so sure...

Just like any young man dealing with destiny, Thomas is hesitant at first, learning the ways of capturing boggarts and how to trap them. As he studies under the current Spook (who's name I forget), he is also trying to understand why there are trapped witches on the Spook's land -- like, why not trap them in your archenemy's hill?

Thomas also learns to navigate his way through the politics of town -- who he can trust, who he can't. During his beginning weeks, he befriends a young girl named Alice. Alice's aunts are witches -- and one of them is actually trapped on the Spook's property. One thing leads to another, there's a bit of deception, and the witch on the Spook's property gets free.

Good one, Thomas. But how is our hero to learn if he can't make mistakes? And also, try to take care of said mistake while his teacher is out of town -- so, yes, this book followed a recipe that has been seen in many other stories.

Just like any coming of age tale, it's this massive mistake that allows Thomas Ward to own up to what he is destined to become -- the next Spook, even if it's a lonely trade.

There's other plot points and elements that are introduced that will make the rest of the 13-book series interesting, I hope, but the most curious is the introduction of Alice. One of the later books is titled "I am Alice," so the instant she was introduced, I knew she wasn't going to be some minor character.

Is she good? Is she bad?

Delaney does something with Alice, though, that I really appreciates. She makes me uneasy. Sure, she was caught in the web of her witch relatives and made poor decisions based on their control, but I feel like this is a girl that's just not going to be good for Thomas and Thomas won't be able to keep his eyes off her. She's going to be an unreliable character -- and there's nothing I love more.