I’ve been hitting the library pretty hard the last few weeks, and I have some books to review. Shorter, group reviews for the win!
The Last Apprentice, book 1, by Joseph Delaney. (Middle grade.) If I’d read this as a kid, it’d have given me night terrors. It’s full of things that go bump in the night–or in some cases, go slither in the night. And undead things clawing their way out of graves and creeping toward your face.
It’s about this farm kid who gets apprenticed to a Spook, a kind of monster hunter roaming the medieval countryside. The kid, of course, eventually lets loose a monster his master told him not to let loose, and then has to deal with killing it himself. Witches are bad news, dude.
It’s a dark, dreary book, like a ghost story you tell to your friends. At the same time, there’s all kinds of warm, likeable things–like the Spook’s code of honor, or the boggart-cat in the kitchen, or the hero’s drive to do the right thing. If you have a kid who’s into horror, well, there’s about 15 books in this series. It’s not really my thing, though.
The Magic Thief, by Sarah Prineas (middle grade). I want to shriek to the skies how much I loved this trilogy. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT. The hero is a young thief, like the one from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. But he attempts to steal a wizard’s locus stone and it doesn’t kill him–meaning the thief is also a wizard. (A locus stone is like a magic wand in this world. Everyone has one and they’re all different.) Most of the trilogy is the hero searching for his locus stone (over the course of the books, he has two.) The wizard he tries to pickpocket takes him on as an apprentice, and grudgingly teaches him magic. The relationship between grumpy old Nevery and sneaky (but honest) Conn is the primary charm of the book.
But the real delight came when something is going wrong with the city’s magic. Conn, knowing nothing about magical theory, figures that the magic is a living creature, and magic words are just the language a wizard uses to communicate with this creature. I don’t know why this idea entranced me the way it did.
In the next book, Conn meets a city being eaten up by a bad magical being. In the third book, the bad magical being comes to eat his city’s magic, and he and the wizards have to fight it. It’s all tangled up with dragons and dragon lairs.
This is a trilogy I’m going to buy and read to my own kids. This is a cream-of-the-crop kind of book series. It’s wonderful.
I’m currently reading Shiver, which is basically a werewolf book written for Team Jacob. But I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t review it properly. That’ll be my next book review roundup.