Thursday 14 July 2011

The Witch Hunter Chronicles: The Scourge of Jericho

The Witch Hunter Chronicles: The Scourge of Jericho by Stuart Daly (Random House)
PB RRP $17.95
ISBN 978-1-7427-5052-1
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

The Scourge of Jericho is the first book in an enthralling series for younger readers, in the same rein as Rangers Apprentice and Spooks Apprentice. I suppose Jakob is sort of like an apprentice too. The sixteen year old has run off to join the Hexanjager, an elite squad of witch hunters.

Daly takes the historic significance and facts of 1666 and throws in a few twists, adding real witches who can really do magic. Jakob’s first mission with the Hexanjager sees him trying to recover a mysterious relic. The four members vary in hostility towards Jakob. He’ll have to earn their trust and respect, starting with the fearless leader Blodklutt.

Jakob’s a novice who quickly earns his stripes and scars. This is a non-stop mission with witches, demons and traitors in their path. There are hardly any quiet moments. Action buffs will get a kick out of the gruesome descriptions of the witches and their spells. Readers will enjoy the ride through Jakob. He’s a likeable lead who has his fair share of doubts about himself. But it’s his courage that shines through. I like how his elders praise him for his efforts, every step of the way.  
Daly has taken a few playful liberties with the weapons and battle tactics. You get the best of both worlds; fantasy and loose historical fiction in one. I really enjoy the descriptions of the blades used in the story. It may trigger readers into further research about these dangerous and tense times. 

The Witch Hunters Chronicles has started off with a bang in The Scourge of Jericho. Readers who crave action and adventure will eat this up and it’s recommended for ages 10 and over.

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