Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: James Nicol - The Apprentice Witch - Book Review


Arianwyn fluffs her witch's assessment. Awarded the dull bronze disc of an apprentice - to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma - she's sent to protect the remote, dreary town of Lull. But her new life is far from boring. Turns out Gimma is the pompous mayor's favourite niece - and worse, she opens a magical rift in the nearby forest. As Arianwyn struggles with her spells, it's soon clear there's much more than her pride at stake ...

Are you ready for a magical broomstick ride? If so, let's do a loop-de-loop with a cackle of laughter in pursuit of a cracking debut book by James Nicol. The Apprentice Witch has fully fledged into a printed version, with a quick flick of the wand and a magical spell or two. It is clucking into the published world through the mighty Chicken House from early July 2016.  The plot will certainly seek out and enchant readers from the age of 8 to 108 - " OH YES it will". Now you're thinking 108 years old, but witches do live that long. I know there is one at the bottom of my garden and she loves to read books. 

With odds stacked against her, apprentice witch Arianwyn Gribble must overcome a shaky start as she looks upon a poster declaring 'Your country needs you! Join up today!' In this story, you will fly through a small world in a barrage of fantasy gold that is packed with elegance and nostalgic charm. It's a very engrossing tale that follows fifteen year old trainee witch Arianwyn. A witch who is very lovable, but hides a deep dark secret. 

In the world of legend, witches use a set of five magical symbols, called glyphs, to control the natural flow of magic in the world. But Arianwyn Gribble has worst luck than most as she has seen a sixth glyph for as long as she can remember. A glyph that has always heralded trouble and darkness, like the death of her mother.  This brings a rather large slice of edginess and a darker side to the story. 

You will love the action and drama of this feel good read. Arianwyn's spells and magic don't always work and, therefore, the story tackles self-esteem issues. The main character deals with this in a sensitive and a realistic way. It's a really heart warming read as Arianwyn tries to overcome failure.  

Arianwyn is posted to the obscure village of Lull, which is full of evil monsters and magical dark creatures that lurk around every corner. The monsters/creatures are very inventive, in fact some of them made me chuckle whilst others made me shiver. Where did the ideas came from? Are they the author's nightmares/dreams or from his vivacious appetite for reading, who knows? Either way, they really lift the story and make it a fantastic and classic reading experience. 

The ending of the book is thrilling. It delivers mystery and action in a whirlwind of cinematic, magical adventure which is all fuelled by adrenaline, friendship and bravery. Finally, it all climaxes in a brilliant and vivid ending. I suddenly realised I had come to the last very page, which to me is a very good sign that I have read a great book....  

This is a cracking start to a new series with many more books to look forward.

Read the first chapter here.
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