The Apprentice Witch *Book Review
Title: The Apprentice Witch
Author: James Nicol
Publish Date: July 25, 2017
Genre: middle grade/fantasy/witches
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
From The Back Cover
A special middle grade debut of magic and courage in a world of witches, written with the charm and enchantment of Circus Mirandus and The Apothecary.
Arianwyn has flunked her witch’s assessment: She’s doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, she may never become a real witch– much to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma.
But remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are sighted in the woods, a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town, and a mysterious magical visitor arrives with his eye on her.
With every spirit banished, creature helped, and spell cast, Arianwyn starts to get the hang of being a witch–even if she’s only an apprentice. But the worst still lies ahead. For a sinister darkness has begun to haunt her spells, and there may be much more at stake than just her pride . . . for Arianwyn and the entire land.
From the Apprentice Witch’s Handbook;
Witches have always used magical symbols known as glyphs to harness, control, and utilize the magic around us. There are four cardinal glyphs and two secondary glyphs. Imagine magic is like thread and the glyphs like a needle. One without the other is of limited use. A witch will use one or more glyphs to pull magic towards her, and has the magic and glyphs connect, a spell is formed. Despite all witches using the same set of glyphs, the individual skill of the witch, and the natural deposit of magic used, makes every spell entirely unique to the caster.
- dark spirits and magical creatures
- blending of modern and old fashioned practices and technology
- middle grade fantasy with a tinge of dark to it
- magic and witches
- an obstacle to overcome
- friendships and hardships
- decent “world” building (could be a bit better)
- likable and relatable characters
James Nicol’s debut novel is quite the enchanting read. We first meet Arianwyn, as she readies herself to take her witch’s assessment. Unfortunately she doesn’t pass, mostly because the test box appears to malfunction. She is however, granted the title of Apprentice Witch and given a small moon shaped bronze badge, of which she is acutely embarrassed of. Arianwyn is sent off to Lull, a small village near the Great Woods, which turns out to not be as dull as she thought. Strange spirits and creatures are spotted in the wood, a hex infestation spreads across the woods and then with the arrival of her rival, who then attempts to become friends with her. At first her spells are a bit haphazard, but Arianwyn soon comes into her own, with the help of a few friends. Just as strange seeming is the fact that an unknown glyph keeps appearing in visions before Arianwyn, typically witches only use 6 glyphs. Unsure of what it is, but with just enough knowledge of it, she decides to summon it, she must face her fear and overcome it, in order to use it.
A sweet, engaging and magical story that shows great strengths in creature development and description, the bonds of friendship and the thirst to prove one’s self, and courage. Action packed and just a tad dangerous, but with fun fast paced dialogue and plot. It moves along quite nicely. There were however a few things that I felt could be improved upon. First the character development and descriptions were a bit lacking especially when compared to the descriptions of the spirits and creatures that are encountered, and second In the beginning the book talks about 4 kingdoms and a war, but then sort of drops the ball actually explaining or further talk of it, which left me wondering. It could be that in the next book that line of thought continues, but right now it is just sort of hanging there.
Arianwyn, is always portrayed as having great wells of compassion for her fellow humans/witches as well as the spirits and creatures she encounters, and does not automatically fear or hate that which is unfamiliar to her. Coupled with her bravery and the fact that she must conquer her self-doubt. Overall is a good message for a children’s book, plus it’s highly entertaining and I think a lot of children will love it, not only kids but everyone else too.
PS according to the author website, a second book is to be released in the UK in the spring of 2018, hopefully it will be released in the US at the same time or soon after.
*I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Chicken House and Scholastic books
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