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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not to be Read After Dark
The Spook's Apprentice is a children's horror novel set in the time of the Pendle Witches. The eponymous Spook is a man whose job it is to protect the local villagers from witches, boggarts and all other evils, yet despite his invaluable service, he is shunned by all. After the death of his last apprentice, the Spook enrolls young Thomas Ward, who, being the seventh son...
Published on 9 Aug 2004 by Chrestomanci

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite terrifying in places
I'm not easily sacred but a couple of thing in this book really put a shiver down my spine. A good and entertaining read started off better then it ended but I would read other books in the series.
Published 18 months ago by Katie


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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not to be Read After Dark, 9 Aug 2004
By 
Chrestomanci (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
The Spook's Apprentice is a children's horror novel set in the time of the Pendle Witches. The eponymous Spook is a man whose job it is to protect the local villagers from witches, boggarts and all other evils, yet despite his invaluable service, he is shunned by all. After the death of his last apprentice, the Spook enrolls young Thomas Ward, who, being the seventh son of a seventh son is qualified for the position. However, he soon discovers that this is no mere accident of birth.
Thomas is left the entire night in a haunted house as a kind of initiation into his new job. The twist in this scene is perhaps a little too obvious. Thomas progresses with his lessons - but before long, the Spook is called away on an urgent matter in Pendle, and rather recklessly leaves his inexperienced young apprentice behind. During his absence, Thomas makes a rash promise to Alice (a girl with pointy shoes), and is tricked into releasing Old Mother Malkin, who was buried alive as punishment for killing the villagers' children and drinking their blood.
Once she is free, Thomas's problems really begin - and it seems that the only person he can turn to for help is the one who got him in this mess ... Alice. Alice is perhaps the most interesting character in the book. The reader is never certain whether she is to be trusted or not. Is she as well-intentioned as she claims, acting under duress - or is she an evil scheming trickster out to lure Thomas to the same bloodthirsty fate as the previous apprentice?
'Not to be read after dark,' it says on the back cover. Perhaps it's not quite as scary as the publishers would have you believe - but it's still sufficiently chilling for most young readers. Certainly not suitable for those under 8 or 9, or those prone to nightmares, as some of the imagery is quite intense: (ghosts of dying soldiers hung on a tree - a witch who wants to drink a new born baby's blood - a boy who has his fingers cut/chewed off by a boggart, and many others). However, if you're 13 or older and enjoy something on the gruesome side, this is an adventurous tale with many a cliff-hanger.
It's somewhat difficult to settle on a star rating for this book. To be honest, this kind of dark horror is not to my tastes; I prefer my fantasy reading material to be a little more light-hearted - preferably with a few laughs. However, putting that aside, I award 4 stars for the quality of writing. This is a well-written novel, briskly paced and with some good characterization. For those who live in Lancashire, the local history of the Pendle Witches may be of particular interest - but this book may well appeal to any teen with morbid or gothic tastes.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spook, 5 Sep 2005
If you're an adult, don't dismiss these books as simply 'kid's stuff'!
I'm nearly 43, and I was as captivated by the Ward Chronicles, as my 15 yr old daughter and sons of 11 and eight years. These books have much to offer an adult audience.
The plots are fast-moving, brilliantly written and, above all, totally enthralling. Joseph Delaney is an imaginative author, who makes it impossible to put down his stories once you've picked them up.
Even as an adult, it was easy to slip into young Tom Ward's mind, and really see the events from his viewpoint. Or, perhaps having a more experienced imagination just adds to the thrills!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky and thrilling, 6 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Spook's Apprentice: Book 1 (The Wardstone Chronicles) (Paperback)
Joseph Delaney dusts off the world of fantasy literature, stepping away from wizards and delivering an much darker, scarier but nonetheless entertaining read than Harry Potter. This first book in a series that will ultimate make up over thirteen installments, tells the tale of Tom who is apprenticed to the Spook, a grizzled old man who deals with the terrifying creatures that inhabit the dark. From ghosts to boggarts and demons to witches, the spook makes the world safe for the people of the county.
Not only does Delaney here deliver a thrilling, unputdownable first installment but he paves the way for what is now my favourite series of books, just beating Harry Potter. His prose, narrated in first person by young Tom, is rich with spooky imagery and the sweeping descriptions of a fictional version of Lancashire make this an atmospheric and gripping read. The characters are well developed, particularly Tom and the Spook and the descriptions are vivid and scary, making for some thrilling set pieces and some tense, spooky moments.
The first books tells the tale of Tom's experiences with the powerful witch Mother Malkin and how he must learn to control his own fear and battle alongside the Spook against the growing power of the dark.
Overall, this first installment is gripping and addictive and i found myself ordering every other book in the series as soo as i'd finished. Do yourself a favour and pick this one up. Its suitable for ages 9 and up, but beware there are some tense, scary moments - though this shouldn't put you off purchasing for you or your children.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of girls in pointy shoes. . ., 25 July 2004
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
THE SPOOK'S APPRENTICE is the debut novel by Joseph Delaney. The story is about Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son. Tom's father finds him work as an apprentice to the Spook - which is similar to an exorcist - someone who deals with witches, boggarts and ghosts, etc. While Tom is training with the Spook, he is tricked into freeing the evil witch, Mother Malkin, from her pit in the Spook's garden. Tom then has to use what little knowledge he has in order to try and stop Mother Malkin from causing horror. This is something he largely has to do alone, as Mother Malkin's surviving relatives devise a rouse to get the Spook away from his house, leaving Tom alone. However, Tom does have one possible helper; although it is the most unlikely of freinds. . .
That is a very brief synopsis of the book, as I don't want to give too much away and ruin the book for future readers.
The brilliance of Delaney's book lies in the exploration of good and evil, and especially how 'innocents' may be wicked. Delaney explores this complex theme mainly through the character of Alice; a young girl who tries to befriend Tom; a girl who wears pointy shoes ( the Spook warned Tom against such girls, saying they are not to be trusted ).
The book also looks at the subject of fear - how it manages to take hold of us and why. As Tom begins to learn, for example, the Spook's job is a lonely one, as many people fear what they have to do for their living. Solitude is part of the life - people fear them and consequently they are left alone, something which can be fearsome in it's own right, especially for a young boy trying to learn the skills of the trade whilst having to face evil.
This really is a fantastic book - both adults and children can easily enjoy what this book has to offer. It is original, unpretentious, and cleverly written. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Fantasy Fiction, 19 Jun 2014
By 
To be honest I was getting a little bit fed up with this genre, but I was persuaded to read this one. Its good no its very good. Well written original and some interesting characters, not to many characters or long lists that you have to refer to on a regular basis. I have bought the next one in the series and hope that the quality continues. Highly recommended!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witches, boggarts and pointy shoes, 7 Nov 2004
This is a gem of a book.
Delightful reading for adults and children alike (although not to be recommended for those under ten or of a nervous disposition), the engaging story will have you reading late into the night if your're brave enough to cast aside the author's warning not to read this after dark. Personally I couldn't resist, but then once I had started reading I found it impossible to put the book down. From the moment the story begins the reader becomes thoroughly enthralled with tale of Thomas Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son who is sent away to train to be the Spook's apprentice. This is by no means an easy task, and soon we are submerged in a world of witches, boggarts and girls with pointy shoes, meeting unexpected and captivating twists and turns along the way. Just one more word of warning in addition to the author's: be prepared to be thoroughly entertained.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dare you enter in?, 31 Dec 2012
By 
JB (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Spook's Apprentice: Book 1 (The Wardstone Chronicles) (Paperback)
The learning curve of Tom Ward, the Spook's Apprentice, is a steep and terrifying one, and the reader is with him every step of the way in this immersive and utterly involving novel.

We follow Tom as he becomes the new pupil of the local Spook, whose business is in dealing with unnameable and unmentionable (and is thus side-lined by the rest of the quasi-medieval society). Tom was born to the job, being the seventh son of the seventh son, so whether he likes it or not, this is his destiny.

Along the way Tom encounters the worst that the powers of evil have to throw at him, but with the guidance of the Spook he develops as a character and gains confidence. This is a work which has at its heart the relationship of master and pupil and this in itself is of interest to children; how can I show my master that I am up to the challenge? How can I ever hope to surpass him?

Joseph Delaney creates a world which is strange to us, yet with echoes of our past realities, and as such we are at times disarmed and disorientated. It's the perfect theatre in which to introduce characters from the darkest recesses of our imagination.

The imagery and description is at times strongly graphic and it's not without reason that the caveat is added by the publishers: NOT TO BE READ AFTER DARK. Having said that, my (nine year old) son is hooked on this series and certainly doesn't seem to be affected adversely; on the contrary, he's keen to know more. We came to the Spook's Apprentice in a local bookshop, and it was the cover which attracted him: it speaks of a challenge with demons and undead, and that's a fair indication of what's in store.

A great book and a great series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooks apprentice, 24 April 2014
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A great book only took me 2 days to finish because i was really hook.
I choose the rating that high because it was extremely hard to put down and i love a good horror story.
I recommend this to people over the age of 10 as it wasn't a hard read but it might spook younger readers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A lonely spook and some pointy shoes, 1 Feb 2008
The Spooks Apprentice is an adventure/fantasy story.

This book is about a boy named Thomas Ward, who is training to be a Spook. Everything is going smoothly until Tom meets a girl with pointy shoes. After that there are some disappearances. Could they be connected with Mother Malkin , the most evil witch in the county?

The two main characters are the Spook and Thomas. The Spook is a lonely, rugged and wise person ,while Thomas is a curious and brave person.

My favourite character is the Spook because he is a very wise and strong character.

The reason I like this book is because it is very gripping, and also because it is quite surprising because sometimes when you think someone's
bad it turns out they are good after all.

I would recommend this book for ages 8 and up. I also think this book is better for boys than girls.

Luc
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality reading, 24 Aug 2007
By 
Juan Kerr (manchester, England) - See all my reviews
The Wardstone chronicles are as follows The spook's apprentice, the spook's curse, the spook's secret and the spook's battle. There are other books but these are the same stories with differing titles for the American market.

I was introduced to these books watching my local news reports during the hoo haa over Harry Potter's "final" journey, i immediately purchased the series and must say i love them. I think his style of writing is very easy to take in for any age of reader. The news report suggested a film deal is on the cards for this series and i must say it would be interesting to see this make the big screen.
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The Spook's Apprentice: Book 1 (The Wardstone Chronicles)
The Spook's Apprentice: Book 1 (The Wardstone Chronicles) by Joseph Delaney (Paperback - 5 Mar 2009)
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