Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 343 pages
Driving away ghosts.
For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried-some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.
Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope; the last apprentice.
Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook's warning against girls with pointy shoes include Alice? And what will happen if Thomas accidentally frees Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the county...?
Protagonist: Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, and because of that he is destined to be a Spook. A Spook is, essentially, an exorcist minus the religious ties. They battle the forces of the Dark, the things, like witches, ghosts, and boggarts, that go bump in the night. In this first installment, most, if not all, of Tom's character development revolves around if he feels he is both right and ready to fully become a Spook's apprentice. When he eventually comes to a decision, it's not just one experience or piece of advice that shapes it, nor does he just look back on all that's happened and make a decision. It really is the journey and the stops he makes along the way that ultimately prove to him where he truly belongs.
Romance: So, I was really skeptical about putting this section in here, because while there is romance in the series eventually, albeit a quite innocent (Middle-Grade level) romance, this book doesn't really have any. In fact it only hints at the possibility for romance between two characters down the line. but I did want to acknowledge it because when I first read this book in high school I was sure there was more romance than there actually is, in fact the "romance" that I thought I saw was actually very platonic and friendship-level stuff.
World-Building: The world in this series is very amazing, and while you don't get to see very much of it in this book, it's still fantastic. While the physical world and lay of the land is very detailed, it's the mythology and and lore about the creatures of the world that makes this book so great. This book really lays the groundwork for the series, as it's actually quite a long series, but the things learned in this book, about the agents of the Dark and what responsibilities come with the job of being a Spook are quite fascinating and set the stage for the rest of this adventure.
Predictability: So since this isn't the first time I've read this, nor do I completely remember how I felt about certain twists, this section will mostly focus on how well the foreshadowing was done and the little things I'm not sure I noticed before, but first I do want to say that while I knew the basic outline of this story, there were a few moments, particularly toward the end that I had forgotten, so it wasn't like I was never surprised by the twists this book took. Now for the foreshadowing, I'm going to level with you I'm not exactly sure how much I caught onto before, but it was still interesting to see the little call outs to events that will transpire in future installments and the secrets that are uncovered by Tom as he continues his journey.
Ending: A really great thing about this series, and by extension this book, is that (to my knowledge) they all end with a short little epilogue that will tie up the basic story of whatever installment you're reading. It will jump forward in time just a little bit and give updates on what the characters are up to as almost every installment is essentially a diary/journal entry by Tom. This particular book ends in a very plateaued way that sort of brings everything to a close while vamping up to the fact that this is just the beginning.
So I wasn't quite sure if I would feel the same way about this book as I did the first time, mainly because I was fourteen or fifteen the first time I read it, and maybe it's nostalgia or maybe it really is that good as long as I accept that this is an upper MG/lower YA read, but I was completely charmed by this series once again and can't wait to finally make it all the way through the series and start the recently released spin-off.
P.S. So I'm kind of just reading these book again for fun since they're very quick reads and due to the fact that I didn't want to start reviewing the later books without reviewing the earlier ones, and since I pretty much reviewed everything I've read since I started blogging, I stopped reading this series at I believe book #9 or #10 (told you the series was long, but so worth it) so I'm just going keep these reviews until I need them, so I'm not quite sure how frequently they will be out.