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Review: The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

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Arianwyn has fluffed her witch’s evaluation test.

Awarded the dull bronze disc and continuing as an apprentice – to the glee of her arch-rival, mean girl 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 Great Wood. As Arianwyn struggles with her spells, a mysterious darkness begins to haunt her – and it’s soon clear there’s much more than her pride at stake …

This book, you guys, THIS BOOK. I love anything and everything witchy, and The Apprentice Witch is witchy done good. Actually, scratch that–it’s witchy done AMAZING.

Arianwyn, our heroine, is just beautifully developed throughout the story. She grows SO much during The Apprentice Witch, and really comes into her own as a person, and as a witch. There’s so much I adore about Arianwyn–I love that she’s got a stubborn streak, I love that she makes mistakes, but admits to them and tries to learn from them, and I LOVE how loyal she is to her friends.

I’m a complete sucker for tough-love grandparents in books, so I’m head-over-heels with Arianwyn’s Grandma–I really hope that we see more of her in future books. I also really enjoyed seeing Arianwyn’s friendship with Salle, and her interactions with the townspeople of Lull were (generally) lovely!

The plot was fun, twisty turn-y and always exciting. I really enjoyed seeing Arianwyn go about her daily work–in a lot of witchy books I feel like we miss out on the day to day activities. It was a great way to learn more about witchcraft!

I utterly loved the world building–it was rich and imaginative, and yet not told to the reader in a massive info-dumpy way. After finishing the book, I felt like I was just scratching the surface of Arianwyn’s world, I wanted to find out SO MUCH MORE, yet I knew everything I needed to be fully immersed in this story, in this world.  The magic system was explained beautifully, and I loved (most) of the creatures Arianwyn came across throughout her adventures.

The Apprentice Witch is a book that brims with charm and magic, setting up a future series in a beautiful way. I’m really excited to see where this story goes next! I’m a massive Diana Wynne Jones fan, and reading this book reminded me of her writing.

So all in all, I was BLOWN away by James Nicol’s debut. If you like quirky MG stories about friendship and growing up and witches, I definitely recommend The Apprentice Witch.

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