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The Spook's Apprentice No. 1 Hardcover – 1 Jul 2004
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"Teenage readers looking instead for total fantasy should hasten to Joseph Delaney's The Spook's Apprentice . . . This terrific novel is as black as David Wyatt's ingenious ink drawings that head each chapter" (Independent)
"An absorbing tale with scary scenarios and a great central relationship between Thomas and his master" (The Sunday Times)
"Wicked and fast-paced, the second instalment in this series is gripping for adults and children alike . . . Beautifully written" (The Good Book Guide)
"Readers seeking lots of up-close encounters with the unquiet dead and other creepy entities need look no further" (Kirkus Reviews)
"This thrilling and terrifying book should not be read after dark!" (Parents News) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Not to be read after dark!!!!See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The main characters are the Spook, Thomas his new apprentice, and Alice, the young witch with the pointy shoes who could go either good or bad, but who is also a budding love interest for our young apprentice. The Spook has a fair-but-firm grumpy vibe that suits the story. Thomas is bright, honest, loyal and prone to youthful error. He is an insightful and trustworthy narrator, and a good fit as the hero the reader can identify with. Alice is well above the normal girl/sidekick. She is shrewder than Thomas, and more mature. She knows more about witchcraft. As the series develops she will become a more and more important character. (The best part of this is that Alice is a fine protagonist for girls to identify with, and she is certainly a character who holds her own with the Spook and Thomas.)
The book is unique because it tries to present a sense of the work-a-day world of spook busting. Thomas has to learn about the habits of creatures, how to trap and hold them, how to be a spook. He practices skills, digs pits and traps, and generally lives the life of an apprentice. He does a lot of bag carrying as the Spook moves from job to job. While it's fantasy of course, it feels like an introduction to an authentic life.
The larger appeal of the book, and the whole series, is that as time passes the Spook becomes a fully realized character. Thomas begins to grow up. Alice becomes a much more intriguing force. The series is involving from this character development point of view, and the odd blend of spirited fantasy and matter-of-factness creates a really compelling narrative.
The strength of these books lies in the fantastic storytelling of teh author who spins a tail that really will achieve that suspenful state of tension that will delight younger readers. For adults too, the story is well written and never becomes tedious. Good interesting stuff.
The stories are quite original, and well constructed, but not of great depth, and some of the themes feel like they are aimed at an older age group than 9, although the stories are perhaps not sufficiently complex to be branded young adult. Nevertheless I have a hard time recommending them to 9 year olds because while this first one is just fine, there are theems in some of the later books that are downright disturbing. Without wishing to write spoilers it is hard to go into details, but there is one particular theme, several books into the series, that led me to speak to teh school about placing these in an older section of the school library. The only time I have ever behaved like such an interfering parent! So please don't hold that against me.
My recommendation is that children and young adults 11 and up would love this series.