The Spook’s Curse – Joseph Delaney

“When I heard the first scream, I turned away and covered my ears with my hands, pressing hard until my head hurt. At that moment I could do nothing to help. But I could still hear it, the sound of a priest in torment, and it went on for a long time before finally fading away.
So I shivered in the dark barn, listening to the rain drumming on the roof, trying to gather my courage. It was a bad night and it was about to get worse. 

Tom Ward has been the Spook’s apprentice for just over six months now. He has learnt a lot at the hands of his master and now, he must follow him into danger. Tom trusts the Spook with his life but when the Spook claims it is time to return to Priestown – a place the two of them could be arrested, tortured and burnt at the stake just because of their job – Tom is worried about the consequences. This worry grows even more when he learns that the Spook has unfinished business in the town with a spirit said to be hundreds of years old, and that has defeated him once before. As the pair prepare to battle the creature, another deadly enemy emerges and they find themselves in life threatening situations and its hard to see a way out. 
***
I think I love this series… Two books in in two days… and I still want to read more! The magic, the mayhem and the setting, oh the setting (more on that later) it all makes me want to read faster and find out what is going to happen next. 
The second book is better than the first as its very much the history of the County and The Spook, his unfinished business and learning all about just how dangerous being a Spook can be, even when not facing the undead or magical. The story kept me on my toes and I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure everyone was going to survive… of course I’m not going to discuss that further because of spoilers but there were some gut wrenching scenes in this book and really they are what made me carry on! 
Now on a personal note this book hit a few high notes because of its setting. I found out on the day I started the series that the author was from Preston, a town very close to where I live now and the one I went to uni in and lived in for three years. I also found out that Joseph Delaney based ‘The County’ in the books on Lancashire and whilst this was intriguing in the first book, during the second the characters visit ‘Priestown’ which is obviously Preston and mentioned streets and other town names near to where I am sat right now writing this review. It was really interesting because I loved to see the streets and the towns as I know them now and re-imagining them as they would be for the time and setting of the book. It was fantastic and whilst it took some getting used to it helped me emerge myself into the book even more as I carried on reading! 
The other thing that I love about this series is the little titbits in the beginning and the end of the books. I like the end more as it relates to the individual books more but I love opening up a book and seeing a map so the books in this series really gained brownie points from the start! The idea that the books are Tom’s own words written up into the journals that we know the Spook told him to keep is really interesting too and I really love what that brings in terms of feeling closer to the story for the reader. 
I really am loving this series and as the second has been better than the first I am happy to say I really do want to carry on and see what Tom, Alice and The Spook get up to next! 
The Spook’s Curse was published in 2005 by Red Fox, a Random House imprint. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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