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4.7 out of 5 stars71
4.7 out of 5 stars
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THE SPOOK'S BATTLE is the fourth book in Delaney's Wardstone series. Each book has been fantastic, adding to the whole world and story that Delaney has created. THE SPOOK'S BATTLE was no exception, in fact it could be argued to be one of the best so far.

Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, apprenticed out to a Spook - someone who deals with the Dark; boggarts, witches, ghosts and ghasts. The path Tom is taking is not an easy one; people fear the Spook and his trade because of the terrors that they have to face. Yet Tom knows that his mother wanted for him to become the next apprentice, and so he feels that it is his proper calling.

In this installment, Tom is told by the Spook that the 3 witch clans of Pendle are becoming more dangerous. Usually the 3 witch clans are at each others throats, only ever coming together in extreme circumstances. But there is rumour that 2 of the clans have already begun to join forces, and that the third is now in their sight. Once all three clans are joined, they mean to raise up the "dark made flesh", the Devil himself. Tom and the Spook must travel to Pendle to try and prevent this from happening.
Before they set off for Pendle, the Spook tells Tom that he must go back to his family's farm and collect the three trunks that were left for him by his mother. What is inside these trunks? Tom has had suspicions that they will contain the story of his mother before she met his father, but what secrets will they uncover? And, will Tom be able to face upto the repercussions of these secrets and what they mean for him?

I won't say anymore, as I don't want to give anything away for those who wish to read this fantastic book.
What I shall say though is that this installment definitely sets in place a very good story for the next installment. The first three books have all been creating a sense of forboding - that something big will happen to change the already dangerous world that the Spook and Tom inhabit - but THE SPOOK'S BATTLE definitely captures this sense of forboding and runs with it.

As with the other books, THE SPOOK'S BATTLE does not only consider the fight against the Dark, that Tom and the Spook have to face. Tom has to face issues surrounding who he is when he finally discovers what lies inside of his mother's trunks. And, of course, there is the charcater Alice, a niece if a witch. She really is a very well created and developed character. The Spook has never really trusted her, for this very reason, but Tom has more faith in her than his master does. But, with them travelling to Pendle, where Alice still has family, will it be too much of a temptation for her to go back to her 'wicked' ways?

This series really is fantastic. If you haven't read any of them yet, the first one is THE SPOOK'S APPRENTICE. It really is a well thought out series. Although there is not magic in the sense of what many shall know from the Harry Potter series, this is no bad thing. From the very beginning of the Wardstone Chronicles, magic is portrayed as something that is usually done for malevolent reasons, rather than for helping people. Delaney has created a world which is just as dark as the one HP finds himself in, perhaps even darker, especially at the end of this book.
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on 10 July 2007
Having been stuck in an airport for several hours a couple of years ago, I stumbled across the first in this series of book that deal with the 'adventures' of Tom Ward. A young boy who is apprenticed to a Spook.

This is the fourth in the series and is arguably the best yet. There is a lot of fast paced action, with wonderful narratives and colourful descriptions. Delaney certainly has a way of lifting the characters out of the page.

It was a long year waiting for this one to come out, I can see it being an even longer wait for the next book. Some of the hints at the end of this book foretell some great episodes in this series to come.

Shorter than the Harry Potter books, this series is a lot more accessible to people with a shorter attention span. Note that I did not say a younger audience, as some of the situations could be scary for an advanced writing age younger person, however teenagers and adults will really appreciate the shade and tone in the writing.
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on 13 September 2008
My son loved this book, and the minute he had finished it said, 'Can we get the rest?'
One cautionary note - it is quite dark in places, with some pretty gruesome imagery - probably why my son enjoyed it so much! - but I would say it's for twelves and up as it does deal with some serious moral questions.
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on 4 February 2013
Joseph Delaney has the rare talent of writing a book on two levels - one for children (mine are aged 8 and 11) and one for adults. The children love them - we spend quality time reading a chapter or two (approx. 1/2hr to 1hr) - of course with voice-acting! - and I really enjoy them too. The latter is an important facet for any parent as reading to your children should be a joy and not a chore.

The series is based around the 'apprentice' to a spook and is set in a 'low magic' medieval world which means that magic is still present in this world, but isn't obtrusive - it's a background part of the world which allows for the storytelling. The bad guys are typically boggarts, witches and spirits. There's nothing in the book that is unsuitable for children, and from a child's point of view, the friendships are just that, whereas from the adult's point of view, there is clearly a 'love interest' but this amounts to nothing more than holding hands. The bad guys die in the normal fashion - but again the author is sensitive to his audience - nothing that any parent couldn't read to his child (although my boys wouldn't mind a bit of blood and gore!)

Finally from an educational point of view, the author creates a rich world with a lexicon that isn't too challenging, but will throw up a few words each chapter to test the reader/child - so for example my children now know what a 'capstan' is, and we can say without doubt our favourite word is 'widdershins'. We read the book on kindle iPad which has a built in free dictionary - so the kids can press any word they don't know and pull up the definition!

I guess we'll work our way through the whole series - will be excellent for camping trips. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
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on 29 August 2011
In this, the fourth book in the Wardstone chronicles, Tom find himself heading to Pendle with the Spook to deal with the witch clans that are coming together in order to wake the most feared creature that ever lived, The Fiend who they plan to release so they can control the land and bring dark across the county and beyond. Alice has got herself captured by one of the witch clans and Tom is desperate to rescue her. But something else happens in Tom's life that he never foresaw his family has been kidnapped, his brother Jack and wife Ellie along with their young daughter have been taken and the farm burned down, Tom's Mam has returned to Greece and Dad has died. So with more than one agenda Tom and the Spook must reach Pendle and face the seemingly impossible task of thwarting the witch clans' plans and save Alice and Tom's family before its too late.
Delaney once again delivers an astoundingly well written book, much longer than the previous three and even more exciting, the action increases as do the scares and the introduction of the assasin Grimalkin makes for interesting reading and many engaging sub plots. There are even more dangerous creatures in the form of Tibb an evil seer and the Fiend who's only goal is to kill Tom and then wreak chaos. The writing is fast, slick and vastly entertaining and Delaney makes our imaginators buzz with the situations and creatures he describes.
The characters are developing even more and we learn shocking secrets about Tom's mam and her past, because of this the series gets even more addictive and involving and Delaney makes it physically impossible for these books to be put down.
Overall a perfect fourth installment.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 November 2008
First sentence: The witch was chasing me through the dark wood, getting nearer and nearer by the second.

In Pendle, the three families of Witches are joining forces in an effort to raise Old Nick (the Devil). Father Stocks asks Mr. Gregory (Spook), Tom (his Apprentice), and Alice (Tom's friend and a former Witch). Alice is captured by Mab and threatens to kill her unless Tom takes Mab back to his childhood home.

Tom's mother was Greek and an immortal until she married Tom's father. In a locked room, which will protect Tom from evil, are three large trucks that Mab wants for Alice's life. When they arrive at the house, not only are the trunks gone, but so are Tom's brother, sister-in-law and their child. Tom must do what it takes to rescue his family, save Alice, retrieve the trunks and prevent the witches from accomplishing their goal.

A word of caution: this is not a book for very young or sensitive children and is it dark and graphic with elements of horror. That said, for older children and adult fantasy, it's a great book.

The author has a wonderful voice as Tom, the 13-year-old Spook in training. Tom is definitely an apprentice who is still learning his craft and making the mistakes, but he is learning. I do like that his character, and all the relationships, grows and changes with each book. Father Stocks is also interesting in that he had been an apprentice but felt he could do more as a priest.

For those with children, this book is one that would be excellent to read and discuss together. There are lessons that can be taken from the story. It is a series that should be read in order. While this fourth book in the series is complete in itself, it also segues to the next book. It's on my shelf waiting to be read.
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The fourth part in this delightfully delicious series and one where all hell breaks loose literally. As with the other titles, its addictive, the characters stand on their own and the fact that each continues to grow really makes this something special. Add to the mix some secrets from the past rearing their head, some truths that the readers may have suspected and of course a peril that will keep you glued to the last page and you know that you've gotten something special.

Finally add a few more dangerous situations, a growing number of surviving enemies and the peril that our hero faces will be something that will endanger him when his apprentice not only ends but when he's out on his own. A seriously great arc and a very scary future prospect is cleverly delivered.
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on 19 August 2007
I found this book to be very interesing and very well written!!
I have grown fond of his books and other horror stories!
This books gives you a thrill of exciting experinces and hope it does the same for you!!
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on 27 May 2010
This is a great book. It has everything: A second witch vowing that she will own Tom one day instead of Alice, A witch conspiracy and one of the witch coven leaders hiding a monster called Tibb under her dresses! Truly Amazing!
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on 8 March 2009
Having read all five of the Spooks books(and the world book day special!!) I think this is by far the best.

Tom has been apprenticed to the Spook for a year and the two are on their way to Pendle. The three clans of witches are uniting to raise the Devil himself and destroy all that is good. When they arrive, Tom finds himself being teased by a clan leader, Mab Mouldheel, and he has to use all his wits to shake her off, especially when she decides to set the Devil on him...

These books are so well written and I can hardly put them down. The whole of my class has gone mad for them... a must read for 10 year olds up.
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