Saturday, 8 March 2008

The Spook's Apprentice

I've been waiting for this book to reappear in our library for quite some time. My daughter recommended it, I knew I'd seen it there but the minute I went to look for it, it disappeared. Typical! Anyway, The Spook's Apprentice, a young adult book by Joe Delaney, was well worth the wait but I nabbed it just in time... when I checked online I saw that someone else is now waiting for it.



Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. His parents are farmers in Lancashire, not well off, so Tom will have to make his own way in life as the farm is already being run by his elder brother. His mother decides to apprentice him to the local Spook, the man who protects villagers around from all kinds of dangerous individuals such as boggarts and witches. Tom isn't mad about the idea, Spooks are shunned by society in general, but his brother makes it obvious that, at thirteen, Tom is not welcome around the farm anymore - thus giving him very little choice in the matter. He sets off with the Spook and has to prove himself in a haunted house before they arrive at the Spook's home. Some weeks later the Spook is called away and Tom meets Alice. Alice has 'pointy shoes', something the Spook has warned Tom to avoid - girls with pointy shoes that is - but Tom ignores his advice and is tricked into setting free Old Mother Malkin, a witch confined underground by the Spook, and with a reputation too horrible to contemplate. Tom's troubles have only just begun.

This book is a pretty quick read, partly because it's not long, but also because you can't put it down! It's very good and I understand completely why it's so popular. For a young adult book it is actually genuinely creepy in places and has some ideas that maybe wouldn't be suitable for children under 12 or so to read. The writing is pacey, spare, and to the point, not a lot of time wasted with inconsequentials... perfect for teenage boys I would imagine (and grandmas who like good YA fantasy and horror. :-)) There are about six in the series, I have the second already on the library pile (thought I'd better grab it while it was there) and will definitely read all of them.

8 comments:

DesLily said...

sheesh.. there she goes on yet ANOTHER series! lol. Hi Cath, well this sounds like you enjoyed it! I can't say I've ever heard of it before.. I'll check it out.

I sent for one I think I will regret because it's 5 books. the early years of Merlin... the only good thing (should I like it and want to read the rest ) is that they are all out! Lately I have been trying to put off getting a new book of a series when they are only on book one... I have too many series right now that I am waiting on releases, and by the time they come out I've nearly forgotten the books.. or at least the "small stuff" that most likely made me like them.

Cath said...

LOL! Oh Pat, you do make me laugh. Heehee. Yes, another series. I'm not buying them though. There's too many of them and they're too short. I'll get what I can at the library but there's no hurry. And I know what you mean about starting new series, I've stopped myself from starting several recently. It's getting too hard to keep track! On the other hand I will have to start one new one soon for the 'dragons' challenge and that will be the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. What's the new series you're starting, the author I mean?

This 'Spooks' series might not be your thing, btw, as it would probably be categorised as YA horror.

DesLily said...

the series I sent for book one is:

Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Barron

every review sounds like I will like them, and yep they are YA books.. sigh..

Booklogged said...

You hooked me with this review. It's on my TBR list. Hope I can find them in my little library.

Cath said...

I hope you can find them too, Booklogged. They're quite well known here in the UK but maybe not so well known in the States? I don't know. They are worth searching out though.

Darla D said...

Thanks for this recommendation - I listened to the audio version of this one, and wow, it was so creepy and gripping! It took me a while to figure out the title difference in the U.S. - it's called The Last Apprentice (lame, lame, compared to the UK title - I wish they'd stop doing that!). I really enjoyed this, and I'm looking forward to the second one.

Cath said...

Darla: I've read three in this series and like them a lot. The fourth book is proving more difficukt to get as I don't want to buy it and there's only one copy in all of the Devon libraries. I'll have to reserve it at some stage. I completely agree about the title!

Darla D said...

I'm so glad to hear that you like the sequels. Only one copy? That's awful! We are receiving fewer copies of things at the library where I work as well, and because we're one of the smallest branches in a large library system, I often feel like we're just getting a few crumbs here and there. Pout! But we are lucky that it's easy to put holds on things and move them from branch to branch.