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The world of the Spook and his apprentice is getting darker
on 15 July 2007
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.