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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 3 May 2017
The apprentice is naieve and as a result gets into many amusing fixes but, with careful guidance from the Spook, always triumphs over his own stupid mistakes. A loose cannon appears in the shape of Alice, a young girl of dubious character. Will she be good for him or will she be his downfall?
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on 12 June 2009
This is a brilliant book for both young and old and follows the journey of Tom, the 7th son of a 7th son, as he battles the forces of the dark. While the first two books are aimed more at a younger audience, Joseph Delaney has continued to develop both his characters and the world they inhabit with the 3rd, 4th and 5th book growing in length. I fully recommend this book to anyone to read whether you love fiction or not.
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on 7 March 2017
I chose this book because I think it's a great read. At fist you think it's made for young children, however the creepiness and gory bits ( which are written excellently ) give you a sense that it is for a wider audience, making it a God book to me.
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on 17 May 2017
Fantastic serie.
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This is not "high fantasy" with world building, heroic characters, and profound quests. At least not in the early volumes. The County Spook deals with the mundane tasks of keeping witches and boggarts and the like in line. There are creatures and spirits and practitioners of the black arts out there, and sometimes they misbehave or leave their territory and have to be trapped, relocated or dispatched. It's sort of like being an officer of the Department of Wildlife, spooky division.

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.
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on 24 March 2015
I have literally just started reading this series and, my god, I am hooked!! If your like me and love getting lost in a world of fantasy, which has you turning page after page and before you know it it's bed time, then this series is for you!!! I hope you don't have a tight schedule because this will defo have you running late!! =)
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on 4 July 2012
My 9 year old daughter started reading Spooks, and she raved about it so now I have been reading them too.

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.
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VINE VOICEon 9 August 2004
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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on 2 April 2017
Great book buck lacks adventure
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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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