Heard: Revenge of the Witch: Wardstone Chronicles: Last Apprentice Series, Book 1 by Joseph Delaney, 2005 (for audio), Overdrive download.
Boy #1 was reading this series and chose one of them for a stories at bedtime. I enjoyed reading the book out loud and found the audio online.
Thomas Ward is the seventh son of his family and only one of two to still live at home. His oldest brother lives at home with his pregnant wife and is about to take over the family farm. Thomas is about 15 years-old-old (I cannot recall exactly) and needs to find a trade and leave home. Thomas finds out that The Spook has agreed to take Thomas on and Thomas will be leaving home in a few days.
The Spook is tall and everyone avoids him. The Spook deals with ghosts, boggarts, witches, and other unpleasant beings. The Spook is relied upon under desperate circumstances but the mysterious and dangerous nature of his work makes him a outcast. The Spook promises to take Thomas on for one month and see how things go.
Well, things happen. Thomas has a hard adjustment leaving home and learning at the knee of a guy who can sometimes be hard. But, The Spook can also be a caring and understanding fella for a young teen. After all, Spook has already had 29 other apprentices and some even survived.
Anyway. Thomas chooses to stay on as apprentice. He is slightly taken with a local girl who does him a favor. Spook has to leave town and leaves Thomas to care for his house and land. Part of the land is burial for the living and the dead. The living include a witch who was captured by the Spook. Local Girl asks Thomas to feed Witch some cakes. He does so and the witch grows stronger and presses aside the bars of her tomb to escape.
Thomas pursues. Thomas catches. Thomas barely survives but kills Witch by chance. Thomas threatened by other witches and chased. Thomas rescued by Spook. Thomas told to take Local Girl to her relatives. Dead Witch too strong to die. He spirit is wick and can travel and take over another body. Thomas stops at home and has to figure out which relation or visitor has been possessed. Everything ends happily ever after.
1. I know I liked the novel because I wrote a lot up above.
2. Nice YA fiction with a kid sorting himself out and dealing with new challenges and people.
3. I'll compare this favorably with The Book of Three. Young hero has to leave home and learn how to deal with a girl his own age, with adults, and new and dangerous demands.