Study Guide

Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice) The Supernatural

By Joseph Delaney

The Supernatural

Dealing with ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties would be all in a day's work. (1.11)

Yikes. Here's just a little bit of the Spook's job description. Sounds like his job is not that dissimilar from being a cashier at Wal-Mart. Right? Right.

I sometimes saw things in the dark, and a candle was the best way to keep them away so that I could get some sleep. (1.36)

This early in the book, it's easy to think Tom is just thinking of creepy-looking shadows or tree branches scratching at his window. But we soon learn that he really is seeing things in the dark, and that these things could be dangerous. We're not sure if our inability to see them is a good thing, or not. Have you ever heard that adage, "what you don't know can't hurt you"? We're not sure it applies in Tom's world.

[Jack] took a pinch [of salt] and threw it back over his left shoulder. It is an old County superstition. By doing that you were supposed to ward off the bad luck you'd earned by spilling it. (1.56)

Jack isn't just being superstitious here. Or creating an even bigger mess for his mam to sweep up. Salt actually does combat the supernatural, as we see when Tom uses it to injure Mother Malkin.

"You can talk to ghosts and tell them what's what." (2.28)

Here we see some of Tom's supernatural powers, which he might have inherited from his mother. He doesn't even need a Ouija board to talk with ghosts. We're impressed.

Thirteen, the worst and unluckiest of all numbers. (3.7)

We had a lot to say about the number thirteen in our "Symbols" analysis, but we have to mention it here too. Thirteen goes beyond superstition and into the realm of the supernatural here because its association with danger is all too real in Tom's world.

Maybe it wasn't a question of who was climbing the stairs. Maybe it was a question of what. (3.33)

Is it scarier to have a ghost trying to kill you, or a real person trying to kill you? We're not sure. But either way, we do not want to be in Tom's shoes when this thing—whatever or whoever it is—comes knocking.

"We don't use magic, lad." (5.25)

Glad that's cleared up. In this quote, the Spook makes an important distinction between what he does and what the witches do. The witches do use magic, but since that magic is derived from blood and bones, it seems to come with a terrible price. So, in short, the Spook and Tom = good, the witches = evil. But what about Alice?

I began to think of the boggart as my friend, and a very powerful friend at that. (10.43)

It's good to see that not all supernatural creatures are bad. With all the evil boggarts, scary ghasts, and diabolical witches in Tom's world, it'd be easy to forget this fact. Just because some members of a species are evil, doesn't mean all members of a species are evil. Just look at humans—are we right?

"Her spirit could seize someone's body and use it as her own. It's called possession." (10.64)

Great. What can't these witches do? Now we see why the Spook has had to resort to seemingly barbaric methods in order to deal with the witches. Does this new fact make it easier for Tom to rationalize the Spook's actions?

"If [the baby] floats, the witch is inside her. [...] If she sinks, she's innocent." (12.61)

This is like the if the glove-don't-fit-you-must-acquit method of absolving guilt (or witchcraft). Both tactics are flashy and dramatic, and neither of them produces reliable results.