Monday, March 18, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Grave Robber's Apprentice

Today’s Pick:  The Grave Robber’s Apprentice by Allan Stratton
HarperCollins, 2012.

From the Publisher:
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.

My Take: 
I loved all the twists and turns in this adventure. I mostly read the book straight through without putting it down, because I wanted to find out what happened to Angela and Hans. I really enjoyed Angela’s determination—and her love of puppets. She was a great team with Hans, and there were a few hints that she might have a crush on him. Although overall there’s a sense of fun and playfulness to the story, it also has some distinctly creepy elements.  

From a writer’s perspective, the first thing that stands out for this story is the voice. There are also lots of embedded references to Shakespeare’s plays and fairy tales, which are interesting to look for.

Favourite quotes:
“Most important, Angela could avoid the long ears of the servants, who loved nothing better than to gossip over their bowls of porridge.”

“Angela picked herself up, imagined the field was a giant stage, and made her entrance.”

“Angela rolled her eyes at Hans: A hermit speaking in riddles was as irritating in real life as it was in storybooks.”

Other Info:
Allan Stratton is a full-time novelist and playwright who lives in Toronto. He has four cats.

The author dedicated The Grave Robber’s Apprentice to his mom, who took him to see Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night when he was very young and encouraged his love of theatre. 
The Grave Robber's Apprentice is nominated for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading award in the Silver Birch category for 2013. Other nominated books that I’ve featured include: Dragon Seer's Gift by Janet McNaughton, Cat Found by Ingrid Lee, A Tinfoil Sky by Cyndi Sand-Eveland, The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and The Dead Kid Detective Agency.

 Other books by this author include:
Chanda’s Wars
Chanda’s Secrets
Leslie’s Journal
For more, visit Allan Stratton’s websiteOr check out this cool trailer for The Grave Robber’s Apprentice.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!



  1. Sounds like an awesome book. I hadn't heard of this one and I like fantasies. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. What a crazy title! And I love any author who has four cats. What ages is it for? I didn't see that in your post. Did I miss it? I mean, I know it's MG, but seems like sort of upper MG?

  3. Sounds like a great one! And right up my daughter's alley.

  4. I've seen this book in the bookstore, but never picked it up. I was afraid it would be too creepy! Glad to hear there's playfulness and fun in it too.

  5. This sounds so good and I am curious about the voice. :) Thanks for sharing!


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