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Is anyone all bad or all good?
on 7 August 2005
This is the second book in the Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney. The book continues the story of the Spook and his young apprentice, Tom Ward.
The Spook and Tom deal with the dark - witches, boggarts and warlocks, ghosts and ghasts. Because of this, they are not popular with the majority of the community (Tom is warned at the very beginning of his apprenticeship that his job will be a lonely one), especially priests. So when the Spook announces that they are going to Priestown, Tom senses that there may be trouble ahead. However, the reason for going there is too important to be ignored, for it is there, below the town in the catacombs, that they are to face a terrible evil that is known as 'the Bane'. The Bane is a terrible creature that is able to use the priests or other people of the town to do its bidding - it is able to read your mind, enter your thoughts and dreams - people are tricked into offering it blood, some are so tormented by it that they only see suicide as a way out of its control. However, Tom discovers an old curse that doesn't bode well for their mission; if the prophecy is realised, Tom may lose a great friend.
This is the basic plot. Just like the first book in this series, Delaney has managed to create great characters. Alice returns, a girl who has witches in her family yet Tom is determined to see the best in her. As in the first book, Alice is perhaps one of the best characters - Delaney uses her to great effect in attempting to illustrate how good and evil are often very close together, things are not quite so black and white as some other children's books like to suggest. The relationship between Tom and the Spook is also developing more; Tom learns things about his master that shock him and trouble him. It is because of this that adults are able to enjoy the books so much; this series is incredibly intelligent, original, and brilliantly written. You are not given all the answers. There are times when you doubt certain characters for the things they do, even the main character Tom. Rather than being a book about good against bad, it is a book which shows how good can sometimes come from bad and vice-versa.
All in all, this is a fantastic series. While it may never be as well known as Harry Potter, I think it is far more clever than the popular wizard series. Highly recommended.