Apprentice Witch, James Nicol; Illustrated by Steve Wells and Daniela Terrazzini

I ha17635499_10154467073647919_5957420770861070799_ove always skirted around the edges of Twitter not knowing entirely what I’m supposed to do with it. It’s a good job I kept checking though because I was lucky enough to stumble on a competition to win ‘Apprentice Witch’ by James Nicol, (a book which I already had on my wish list) and I was lucky enough to receive this lovely book in the post.

I say this to be totally honest but I’m genuinely not biased when it comes to book reviews.  If I hated it I’d tell you.*

I was wondering if I was a bit witched out. The girls seemed to be reading things about witch and wizardry all the time – from Harry Potter and Worst Witch (read, re-read, audio, visual you name it) through the daftness of Witch Switch with others along the way. We even spent most of the Easter holidays on Harry Potter tours of Oxford and Edinburgh and I had to make a birthday cake of Hagrid’s Hut, so it’s fair to say there’s been a magic overload in our house. This book needed it to be notably different for me in this very busy and popular genre.

The premise of the book hooked me almost straight away. Teenage witches have to pass their witch assessment before moving to become a designated witch to a specific town and community. I like the idea of an individual witch as a helper, rather than a figure to be wary of. As if every town needed a witch in the same way it might need a car mechanic, an electrician, a baker and a doctor – a great historical rewrite.

Arianwyn’s assessment doesn’t go to plan but she is given a role regardless and sets about helping the people of Lull with a variety of magical problems. While she strives to do her best we are carried along as she uncovers her own magical problems and finds her place as a true witch, helped and hindered by those around her.

As a child I always relished chapters in stories which brought you into an evocative setting, especially if that involved setting up a home of some sort. Arianwyn takes on the home of the last witch in Lull and sets it to right. Reading this I felt ten years old again. This is the kind of beautiful descriptive writing that, well, it makes you want to set up home as a witch.

The book builds to a dramatic finish as you would expect  and on the town’s busiest day of the year Arianwyn has to do everything she can (with a little help from her friends) to fix things.

This was a great read (my eleven year old loved it too) and hopefully lends itself to a sequel. Thank you James Nicol for the copy.

*If you want to send me free books to review I’ll be honest about them too (go on I dare you).

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