Once I felt someone touch the back of my neck. It felt like the tip of an ice-cold finger. But when I turned to look there was nobody there.
Night falls, the moon rises, and fifteen-year-old Billy starts his first night as a prison guard. But this is no ordinary prison. There are haunted cells that can't be used, whispers and cries in the night...and the dreaded Witch Well. Billy is warned to stay away from the prisoner down in the Witch Well. But what prison could be so frightening? Billy is about to find out...
Praise of Joseph Delaney:
"Delaney's mastery of suspense will grip even reluctant readers with his dramatic, beautifully paced proses."—The Times (London)
"The Last Apprentice series continues to be one of the best written of the last several years."—Booklist
Delaney's popular Last Apprentice series for HarperCollins jumps to the big screen in early 2014 with Seventh Son; set in the same world as those books, this lightly scary novella might persuade a few readers to check out the original stories beforehand. The story, which unfolds in six short chapters, is narrated by orphan Billy Calder, who is apprehensive about the new job he has landed: helping guard an infamously haunted prison on the night shift. The ghosts and dangers turn out to be all too real, as Billy learns about the prison's bloody history and has a life-altering encounter one night while on the job. Fischer's spindly and often gruesome ink illustrations amp up the fear factor a pile of broken dentures sit in a puddle of blood, and the hanged silhouette of "Long-Neck Netty" appears under a moonlit sky in the prison's Execution Square. Despite the publisher's age recommendation and some creepy moments (including talk of neck-stretching and buckets full of blood and gore), this story is appropriate for (and more likely to interest) a middle-grade audience. Ages 12 up.