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The Spook’s Apprentice (The Wardstone Chronicles #1) – Joseph Delaney

“When the Spook arrived, the light was already beginning to fail. It had been a long, hard day and I was ready for my supper. 
‘You’re sure he’s a seventh son?’ He asked. He was looking down at me and shaking his head doubtfully. 
Dad nodded. 
‘And you were a seventh son too?’ 
Dad nodded again”

Tom is the seventh son of a seventh soon and this makes him perfect as a Spook’s Apprentice. But how does he know that this is really for him, how can he scare off the things that go bump in the night when they scare him just as much as everyone else? For years the local Spook has been keeping the people in The County safe and he is not getting any younger, he has taken on countless boys as apprentices but they have all failed. Now Tom is his last hope, but when Tom is faced with the most dangerous witch in the County, will he stand a chance? 

***
I’d heard brilliant things about this series and the book have been on my to read list for quite a while, with the movie adaptation due out soon and with me being on a 9-12 fantasy kick I knew now was a very good time to start them. 
The book was really interesting and a really quick read. It’s written well and flows in a way that allows you to take in a lot of the information whilst not having to stop and think about it too much. I thought it was a little more easy going than some of the other 9-12 fantasy books I have read lately but it reminded me a little of the first Harry Potter, in its style and ease of reading rather than the actual content.
The story was really good and I liked that it was all told from Tom’s point of view so as a reader you feel like you are learning everything whilst he is. I thought he was a little naive and that he got himself in a fair bit of bother but really I think he’s going to be a great character to follow through the 12 books in this series. I loved the idea of the evil witch, Mother Malkin, and how the whole feeling you got from her was closely related to the witches from fairytales. It felt classical really and she was so obviously the bad witch… The good witch didn’t really exist as such but I loved the way that Alice sat on the fence between good and bad and how Tom’s instinct had to tell him what to think about her. 
My one fault with the book was the lack of decent female characters, and by that I mean ones who aren’t either witches or wives and mothers. The women were the cleaners and the cooks or they were evil. Alice was the only one who really had any decent personality and even then she wasn’t as kickass as I like my female characters to be. Things seemed a little archaic when it came to female characters in the book and that is a fault with a number of fantasy books, not just this one however hopefully things wil get a bit better as the series goes on in that respect. 
The book was a really great introduction to the series and there was a good balance between introduction to the characters and action. I can’t wait to see what is going to come next as I reckon now that the introduction is over things will get even better. 

The Spook’s Apprentice was published in 2004 by Fed Fox, a Random House imprint. My copy was sent from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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