I am one of those adults who still enjoys books written for children, and I don’t just mean Harry Potter. So I happily read and enjoyed The Apprentice Witch without any shame.
The Apprentice Witch opens with Adrianwyn going through the official evaluation to graduate from Unevaluated Apprentice to being a real witch, able to go out and do her part to defend her world. However, for some reason, she doesn’t pass. She doesn’t fail, either. It’s inconclusive, so she semi-graduates, getting a moon badge instead of a star, and remaining an Apprentice Witch. But the world is in dire need of witches, so she is shipped off to the village of Lull which has been witchless for decades.
There she has adventures dealing with snotlings and other nuisance magical beings as well as battling a few more serious magical challenges. She also must battle doubts of her ability, not only among the community but within herself. Along the way, she finds new friends, surprising allies. To her chagrin, her school nemesis shows up, the niece of the mayor, and a complex foil whose “mean girl” personal masks insecurity and fear.
I enjoyed The Apprentice Witch and think children will like it even more. I would have enjoyed a bit more complexity to the plot, but then my ages is a few multiples of the target. What it does well is set up a series that would be wonderful to see grow. I hope the second book will be just that much older in theme and complexity, growing with the readers and Arianwyn. That’s what would be ideal.
I think the motif of glyphs as the loci of magic is a great idea, raising possibilities of a lost language or history. I also love the name of the town, Lull, which surely must be a hint that this book is the lull before the storm, warming up for future threats and dangers. As a book for children, The Apprentice Witch teaches important values, compassion and courage. Adrianwyn’s true gift is looking past appearances, judging people and magical beasts by what they do. She does not automatically hate and fear “the other” even when the townspeople do. More importantly, the deep lesson is self-doubt can be our biggest enemy. These are good values for children to acquire.
The Apprentice Witch will be released on July 25th. I received an ARC from the publisher through a Shelf Awareness drawing.
- The Apprentice Witch at Scholastic for Parents
- The Apprentice Witch at Scholastic for Kids
- James Nicol author site