Attack of the Fiend
Attack of the Fiend

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Series: Last Apprentice Vol. 4   

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Annotation: When three powerful witches unite to unleash an unimaginable evil, Tom Ward and Mr. Gregory set out to stop them while dealing with the contents of Tom's family's trunks.
Catalog Number: #23774
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition Date: 2009
Illustrator: Arrasmith, Patrick,
Pages: 532 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-089129-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-17535-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-089129-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-17535-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2007036739
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
Once again packaged as a doorstopper but reading as if it's half the length, the fourth episode in the harrowing training of teenaged Tom Ward as a bulwark against all that is evil and supernatural brings some disturbing revelations about his absent mother's identity. Plus there are battles with undead creatures, a trained assassin who likes to use scissors, three entire clans of witches—and not just a fiend, not just some fiend, but Old Nick himself, newly re-invited back to the world and far more powerful than all other threats combined. Fortunately (if that's the word), with help from a small but doughty crew of allies that swells with the addition of two winged, bestial vampires who turn out to be relatives, Tom pulls through; the stage is set, though, for further bloody struggles with the Devil and his minions. Dark chapter-head illustrations add a properly ominous air to the narrative, as do closing notes on each ghost, ghast, wight and worse he has met. Not recommended for beneath-the-sheets reading. (Fantasy. 11-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 58 Apprentice witch-hunter Tom Ward and his master, the Spook, must now travel into deep enemy territory. The three witch covens of Pendle Hill have been at odds for a long time, but somehow they've been persuaded to put aside old enmities. The aim of this unholy alliance is no less than raising the Devil himself. The key to defeating the witches may rest in a set of trunks willed to Tom by his mysterious mother, but they have been stolen by the Malkin clan, along with Tom's older brother and his family. Delaney does a good job of tying in information from previous books, but the prosaic writing style means the story only occasionally achieves an atmosphere of excitement and dread. Still, fans of the series will welcome the surprising revelations and further questions unveiled in this chapter of the tale. Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
Voice of Youth Advocates
In this fourth novel about Tom Ward, the apprentice Spook, young Tom faces his greatest challenge yet. The County's three rival witch clans are working toward a truce, planning to unite in order to raise the Fiend-the devil himself-to do their bidding. What they want is Tom dead, and he must use all his wits to save himself, his family, and the County from a threat of darkness as great as any the world has ever seen. Delaney structures the series so that the completed books are Tom's journal of the events he has recently experienced. Because of this device, there continues to be a tendency to state rather than show how frightening these events are. It results in an unfortunate distancing between the reader and the story, so one is never quite as spooked as one could be. For example, when Tom comes face-to-face with the infamous witch assassin, Grimalkin, she does not come close to being the remorseless torturer the Spook warned she would be early in the book. The most intriguing character in the series continues to be Tom's Mam, now returned to her homeland of Greece, but revealed in absentia to be something more powerful and disturbing than Tom could have imagined. Fans of the series will not be disappointed, but given how thrilling the most recent of Tom's adventures could have been, perhaps readers should be.-Vikki Terrile.
Word Count: 88,733
Reading Level: 5.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.7 / points: 14.0 / quiz: 121819 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:21.0 / quiz:Q44510
Lexile: 810L
The Last Apprentice: Attack of the Fiend

Chapter One

A Visitor from Pendle

The witch was chasing me through the dark wood, getting nearer and nearer by the second.

I ran fast, frantic to escape, weaving desperately, with branches whipping into my face and brambles clutching at my weary legs. The breath rasped harshly in my throat as I drove myself harder and harder toward the edge of the wood. Beyond that lay the slope leading up to the Spook's western garden. If only I could reach that refuge, I'd be safe!

I wasn't defenseless. In my right hand I gripped my rowan staff, which was particularly effective against witches; in my left was my silver chain, coiled about my wrist, ready for throwing. But would I get even half a chance to use either? For the chain I needed a gap between us, but already the witch was close at my heels.

Suddenly the footsteps behind me ceased. Had she given up? I ran on, the waning moon now visible through the leaf canopy above, silver-dappling the ground at my feet. The trees were thinning. I'd almost reached the edge of the wood.

Then, just as I passed the last tree, she appeared from nowhere and ran at me from the left, her teeth gleaming in the moonlight, her arms outstretched as if ready to claw out my eyes. Still running, veering away, I flicked my left wrist and cracked the chain to send it hurtling toward her. For a moment I thought I had her, but she swerved suddenly and the chain fell harmlessly onto the grass. The next moment she thudded into me, knocking the staff from my hand.

I hit the ground so hard that all the breath was driven from my body, and in an instant she was on me, her weight bearing down on me. I struggled for a moment, but I was winded and exhausted and she was very strong. She sat on my chest and pinned my arms down on either side of my head. Then she leaned forward so that our faces were almost touching, and her hair was like a black shroud touching my cheeks and blotting out the stars. Her breath was on my face, but it wasn't rank like that of a blood or bone witch. It was sweet like spring flowers.

"Got you now, Tom, I have!" Alice exclaimed triumphantly. "Ain't good enough, that. You'll need to do better in Pendle!"

With that, she gave a laugh and rolled off me, and I sat up, still fighting for breath. After a few momentsI found the strength to walk across and collect my staff and silver chain. Although she was the niece of a witch, Alice was my friend and had saved me more than once during the past year. Tonight I'd been practicing my survival skills, Alice playing the part of a witch seeking my life. I should have been grateful, but I felt annoyed. It was the third night in a row that she'd gotten the better of me.

As I started to walk up the slope toward the Spook's western garden, Alice ran to my side and matched me step for step.

"No need to sulk, Tom!" she said softly. "It's a nice mild summer's night. Let's make the best of it while we can. Be on our travels soon, we will, and we'll both be wishing we were back here."

Alice was right. I'd be fourteen at the beginning of August, and I'd been the Spook's apprentice for more than a year now. Although we'd faced many serious dangers together, something even worse was looming. For some time the Spook had been hearing reports that the threat from the Pendle witches was growing; he'd told me that we'd soon be traveling there to try and deal with it. But there were dozens of witches and maybe hundreds of their supporters, and I couldn't see how we could triumph against such odds. After all, there were only three of us: the Spook, Alice, and me.

"I'm not sulking," I said.

"Yes, you are. Your chin's almost touching the grass."

We walked on in silence until we entered the garden and saw the Spook's house through the trees.

"Ain't said anything yet about when we're off to Pendle, has he?" Alice asked.

"Not a thing."

"Haven't you asked? Don't find nothing out without asking!"

"'Course I've asked him," I told Alice. "He just taps the side of his nose and tells me that I'll find out in good time. My guess is that he's waiting for something, but I don't know what."

"Well, I just wish he'd get on with it. The waiting's making me nervous."

"Really?" I said. "I'm in no rush to leave, and I didn't think you'd want to go back there."

"I don't. It's a bad place, Pendle, and it's a big place, too—a whole district with villages and hamlets and big, ugly Pendle Hill right at its center. I've got a lot of evil family there I'd sooner forget about. But if we've got to go, I'd like to get it over and done with. I can hardly sleep at night now worrying about it."

When we entered the kitchen, the Spook was sitting at the table writing in his notebook, a candle flickering at his side. He glanced up but didn't say anything because he was too busy concentrating. We sat ourselves down on two stools, which we drew close to the hearth. As it was summer, the fire was small, but it still sent a comforting warm glow up into our faces.

At last my master snapped his notebook shut and looked up. "Who won tonight?" he asked.

"Alice," I said, hanging my head.

"That's three nights in a row the girl's gotten the better of you, lad. You're going to have to do better than that. A lot better. First thing in the morning, before breakfast, I'll see you in the western garden. It's extra practice for you."

The Last Apprentice: Attack of the Fiend. Copyright © by Joseph Delaney . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Attack of the Fiend by Joseph Delaney
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

"I see your future clearly. Your master will be dead, and you will be alone. It would be better if you had never been born."

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who banishes boggarts and drives away ghosts. But now a new danger is threatening Tom's world: the witches are rising and the three most powerful clans are uniting in order to conjure an unimaginable evil.

Tom and the Spook set out to stop the witches before they unleash the demon. But when Tom finds himself on his own, he wonders if he has the courage and cunning to defeat the most powerful enemy he has ever encountered.

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