Joseph Delaney’s book, Revenge of the Witch, is terrifying, eerie, and absolutely riveting.
I wanted to read this book because the movie is coming out soon. It is based on the book and called The Seventh Son. When I saw the trailer and realized the awesome cast it hosted, I knew I had to see it. A fantasy movie with Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, and Jeff Bridges? Epic. So I set off to read book one in a well-known series I had never heard of.
Synopsis: The Revenge of the Witch is the story of Tom Ward, seventh son of a seventh son, who is destined to be the next Spook, and ride the world of ghosts, witches, boggarts, and other things that go ‘bump’ in the night. It is a scary, dangerous job, but Tom doesn’t have any other options.
Mr. Gregory, the current Spook, takes Tom on as his apprentice and begins teaching him. The things that go ‘bump’ are not waiting for Tom to finish learning though, and while the Spook is away on a mission a young girl tricks Tom into freeing one of the most evil witches: Mother Malkin. Tom must re-trap the witch before she kills Tom, Mr. Gregory, and Tom’s family.
When I picked up this book at the library I was a bit worried. It is housed, in my library, in the Middle School section. I often feel silly going to the teen section to shamelessly grab a YA book, but Middle School? I was worried the writing would be too juvenile to stomach. Another worry was because this is the story of a 13 year old boy. Being female, I usually like stories that have female protagonists, even if they are not the main protagonist.
With these worries in mind, I read the book and oh. my. gosh. Delaney writes an incredible story! While the writing was perhaps a tiny bit juvenile, I would say it was better than most YA authors manage. His prose is simple, but descriptive and engaging, sometimes perilously so.
The book is also supposed to be quite scary, but I’m a big girl, I’ve seen a few horror movies, read Goosebumps…that totally dates the era I grew up in…I figured I’d be fine! And I was…mostly? Revenge of the witch is filled with bone and blood witches who steal children to eat them and make baby cakes with their blood. Ew. There are also creepy crawlies that want to eat Tom, bones that re-animate themselves, and creepy witches who jump out and grab at Tom. Definitely not a scream out loud scary, but I recommend investing in a nightlight.
As to my concern about the 13 year old Tom Ward, I loved him. He is brave, smart, and self-reliant. When he messes up he uses his own brain and resources to get the job done. He also surprised me with his level of intuition and maturity. Although he still runs to his mother when he goes home, (who wouldn’t when your job is hunting the evil creepy things of the world?) he realizes that he will be lonely most of his life. As his brother begins to turn against him, and townspeople give him a wide berth, Tom sees what life as a Spook will be like. He handles this realization with a great deal of maturity. I honestly don’t know how I would deal with that, and I am almost twice his age and deal with solitude rather well.
There was a female character, though I had not expected her to be such a large character. While I usually gravitate toward female characters, the character of Alice kept me on my toes. I still cannot guess if she is going to ultimately be a good or bad character. I am leaning towards good, but Delaney leaves it teetering, she could be good, she could be bad. We just have to wait and see!
Delaney also left me with a few questions that I am dying to unriddle:
Why does she know so much about the Spook? Why does she have powers, and what are they? Why was it her ‘duty’ to marry a seventh son so she could have Tom?
Will she be a good or bad witch?
When will the Spook die?
Because Tom has to become the official Spook at some point…
I give this book a five out of five stars. It was that amazing. I absolutely will be reading the remainder of the series. My only regret now is that the trailer looks nothing like the book and I am worried that I will hate it.