The Last Apprentice—or, alternately, The Spook's Apprentice or The Wardstone Chronicles, depending on where you live—is a series of dark YA fantasy books by Joseph Delaney.The series chronicles the events during the training of Thomas J. Ward under the tutelage of John Gregory, the County's local Spook, whose job is to protect the locals from the dark. And what is the dark? Every horrible, evil, going-bump-in-the-night thing you can imagine, from boggarts to witches and everything in between.The series' books include:
The Spook's Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch in the United States) - 2004
The Spook's Curse (Curse of the Bane) - 2005
The Spook's Secret (Night of the Soul Stealer) - 2006
The Spook's Battle (Attack of the Fiend) - 2007
The Spook's Mistake (Wrath of the Bloodeye) - 2008
The Spook's Sacrifice (Clash of the Demons) - 2009
The Spook's Nightmare (Rise of the Huntress) - 2010
The Spook's Destiny (Rage of the Fallen) - 2011
Spook's: I Am Grimalkin (Grimalkin: The Witch Assassin) - 2011
The Spook's Blood (Lure of the Dead) - 2012
Spook's: Slither's Tale (Slither) - 2012
Spook's: Alice - (I Am Alice) - 2013
The Spook's Revenge - (Fury of the Seventh Son) - 2013
And a number of "side" books that provide further background on the characters, creatures, and settings in-universe:
The Spook's Tale (The Spook's Tale and Other Horrors) - 2009
Spook's Stories: Witches (A Coven of Witches) - 2009
The Spook's Bestiary - 2010
The series is notable for running mainly on old-school European superstitions about magic, witches, demons and the like—because even though you're likely to find the books in the children's section of the bookstore, you don't want to read these to your kid at bedtime.And, certainly, they are not to be read after dark. Especially page 47!The first novel, The Spook's Apprentice, will be adapted into a movie called Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou and Kit Harington.
Action Girl: You don't mess with Grimalkin. The clans' s warriors are pretty frightening in general, just like the witches who stay in the Combe.
Thorne as well, and Alice to a lesser degree.
All Witches Have Cats: Surprisingly averted. While cats are occasionally mentioned as possible familiars, we've yet to see a witch who has one.
And I Must Scream: The Spook buries witches to keep them from causing trouble. This is usually done because their spirits stick to the bones, but even live witches meet this fate. Then again, they get buried for a reason.
According to the thing itself, any pure human male child of the devil will grow to be one of his most terrible adversaries, possibly on par with Tom.
Arbitrary Scepticism: Lampshaded; the man in charge of Pendle, while otherwise a good man, is a Flat Earth Atheist who doesn't believe in witches. Tom is absolutely amazed to hear that someone could possibly believe witches don't exist while being in charge of the place with the biggest population of witches in the whole country.
Armies Are Evil: Among kidnappings, attacks and general destruction, armies are really unpopular in the series.
Fed to Pigs: Mother Malkin shouldn't have attempted to flee through the pigpen while she was shrunk and the pigs were agitated...
Fingore: The Spook's last apprentice, Billy, dies of blood loss when his hand is trapped underground with a malicious boggart. And later, Bony Lizzie removes the thumbs from his corpse. Additionally, the witches remove the thumb bones of enemies they kill to use as a source of power.
Heroic BSOD: Tom and Grimalkin both undergo this after learning that the one person they love most has been killed.
Heroic Sacrifice: Tom's mother and Bill Arkwright die fighting the Ordeen and her forces.
Thorne as well. Though quite painfully it may have been a Senseless Sacrifice, as we never learn if her actions helped Grimalkin at all.
Hope Spot: Grimalkin and Thorne are convinced that the kindly healer Agnes Sowerbutts has been killed by agents of the Fiend. They learn that she is alive but in captivity, but she is tortured to death soon after and her body is unceremoniously left on the ground.
Humanoid Abomination: Abhumans are the deformed, monstrous children of the Fiend and one of his thousands of witch brides. They usually resemble normal people from a distance, but have a notable deformity (ranging from small tusks to full lycanthropy) and are always evil.
I Am Not Left-Handed: Or rather, I Am Not Right-Handed. A tactic used by the spooks fits this, where they carry their staffs with their right hand and quickly toss it to their left to deliver Critical Hit.
Magical Seventh Son: Being the seventh son of a seventh son is literally a job requirement to be a spook.
Medieval Stasis: Kind of. The County is quite backward and in some isolated places castles are still very important for warfare. Only once is any sort of gun fired in the series, and soldiers (presumably from London) are the only people shown to have muskets.
Religion is Magic: Inverted; faith won't help you at all against the dark. In fact, priests who overestimate their holy powers tend to get in trouble when they try to do a Spook's job. On the other hand, it's specified in Book Six that some religious elements, such as the monks' songs, have some actual power (in this case, restraining the Ordin)
Selkies and Wereseals: In the fifth book, the hero is forced to separate a beautiful selkie from her aging husband. In the series, selkies age very slowly, and are considered bad luck or are taught to be prostitutes.
Skeleton Key: Tom and Mr. Gregory have skeleton keys provided by Gregory's brother, a locksmith.
It's actually quite obvious to those who live there. Pendle, and Roughlee are real towns, Heysham is a real viallage and Preisttown is certainly supposed to be Preston, the small city which is the most populous town in the county even today. Caster is Lancaster the capital. The Wardstone, mentioned in the books' preface, is an actual hill called Wardstone.