Completion Date: March 3, 2012
Reason for Reading: Review copy provided by Harper Collins Canada.
Hans is on the run from his adoptive father, a grave robber who found him as a baby hidden inside a wooden box that washed ashore. Now fate has introduced Hans to Angela von Schwanenberg, a young countess fleeing the evil forces of Archduke Arnulf, who has chosen her to be the next in his long line of brides, and the dreaded Necromancer.
Together, Hans and Angela gallop through dark forests, treacherous lands and secret passageways on their quest to uncover the truth about Hans’ shadowy past and save Angela’s parents from the archduke’s monstrous asylum. In this world of highwaymen, hermits and dancing bears, anything is possible—even for a grave robber’s apprentice.
Brimming with action and ghoulish delights, The Grave Robber’s Apprentice is a grand fantasy adventure from one of Canada’s most acclaimed authors for young readers.I had originally planned to review this a week or so ago, but time sort of got away from me lately. About a month ago my contact at Harper Collins Canada emailed me to ask if I wanted to participate in a blog tour of sorts for Allan Statton's newest book. I have never read Stratton before, but he is Canadian and I really need to read more Canadian authors. I used to do so well, but lately it is a bit depressing. Anyway, it helps that this book sounded interesting and ended up being a pleasant diversion. I believe they are trying to market it to young male teens, but I think it has just as much appeal for any teen girls that like adventure novels. The main characters are a boy and a girl about that age.
First of all, you may have heard of Allan Stratton before as his book Chanda's Secrets was a Printz Honor Book. I used to read the Printz books, but I sort of keep forgetting about the rest of them. After reading this book I really must get a copy of Chanda's Secrets and the companion book, Chanda's War. After reading his author bio he is just one of those authors that all of his books get much acclaim and everyone should be reading. So, if you haven't read Stratton, you are missing out!
When the book arrived in the mail, the first thing I did was inspect the very pretty cover done by Jim Kay. It extends around to the back and makes this what I like to term a 'pretty book'. If you want your sons to read this, though, you should probably not pass that piece of info along. Especially if they are reluctant readers! Often book covers are a poor representation of the book itself, but you can tell that Jim Kay knew what he was doing. After I finished it was fun to see all the different aspects of the book that were included in his cover design. Each 'Act' and chapter is also graced by a picture by him. I like those little added touches in books. It is simplistic, but eye-appealing. I look forward to seeing what they do with the paperback edition.
Now, I should probably talk about the book. You see, a baby washes up on shore locked in a chest and is miraculous discovered by a grave robber who after some humming and hawing decides he will one day need an apprentice. So, even though he is not the nicest person in the world, he takes the baby along with him and calls him Hans. Only when Hans grows up, he is a terrible grave robber and every time he attempts it he stumbles upon Angela. Hans and Angela come from very different worlds. He is a grave robber (sort of) and she is a countess. She is not your typical countess. Her favourite thing to do is put on elaborate puppet shows. But then, she comes to the attention of Archduke Arnulf who goes through brides like I would love to go through books. They all die mysteriously and Angela stands a good chance of being next when her parents and her are 'escorted' to his castle.
In an attempt to save herself, Angela makes a deal with a necromancer. Can we all see bad things coming from that? The guy has no eyes and sticks random objects in his sockets. That was some imagery I didn't need to hear about over and over... and over again! Needless to say, her plan does not go how she expected it to at all because he is a NECROMANCER and you can't trust necromancers. She was a bit desperate, I will give her that, but it was one of the stupid moments for her in the book. Without it, though, the young duo would not have ended up on the run together. Then they wouldn't have had their adventures. And without them, Hans never would have found out the truth of who he really was. They also wouldn't have met the very... interesting... characters that they meet along the way. You just wait and see! (*hint* R.I.P. Reading Challenge. I mean, just the necromancer with the strange objects in his eye sockets makes this a darker tale, but there is more! Well, no one else sticks things in their eye sockets (thankfully), but there are darker things...)
So, yes, this book is worth a read. The necromancer and his weird eyes is not really as scary as you would think, so don't worry about nightmares. Actually, just tell your son that part of the book and I am sure he will want to read it! (I am not trying to be sexist there, but guys just seem to like gross things like that WAY more than girls...) (Can you tell who the memorable character in the book for me? The main characters were cool and everything, but I can't imagine forgetting the necromancer any time soon. I will never look at eggs the same way again...) The whole point of this ramble is that I recommend this book and think that you or your children should totally check it out!