Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review: Night of the Soul Stealer (The Last Apprentice #3)

Release Date: August 28, 2007
Author: Joseph Delaney
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Length: 489 pages
Source: Purchased Book

It's going to be a long, hard, cruel winter. And there couldn't be a worse place to spend it than up on Anglezarke.

Thomas Ward is the apprentice for the local Spook, who captures witches and drives away ghosts. As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, the Spook receives an unexpected visitor. Tom doesn't know who the stranger is or what he wants, but the Spook suddenly decides it's time to travel to his winter house, Anglezarke. Tom has heard it will be a bleak, forbidding place, and that menacing creatures are starting to stir somewhere on the moors nearby.

Can anything prepare Tom for what he finds there? What if the rumors about the evil beast called the Golgoth are true? And how much danger will Tom be in if the secrets the Spook has been trying to hide from the world are revealed?



Protagonist: As the first year of Tom's apprenticeship is coming to an end, he and the Spook head to the Spook's Winter House. There more about the Spook's past comes to light as Tom meets a former apprentice of the Spook, a man with dark ambitions. Again, this story shows that while Tom is the main character, he's still the apprentice and, for the moment, his character's purpose is in many ways to give us a look into Mr. Gregory's past. That isn't to say that Tom doesn't have his fair share of troubles as his loyalties are tested and his skills as a Spook in training are put to a great test. Again, Tom doesn't have too much of a lesson to learn or bit of character to adjust, he's still learning what it means to be a Spook, and that sometimes the job can be very hard indeed.

World Building: Once again we're treated to a look into the past of John Gregory as we travel to his winter home in Anglezarke. This book does a good job to flesh out the Spook's backstory quite a bit more as we learn just how he's been dealing with the witch he fell in love with, as well as what happened to the woman who was engaged to his brother but ran away with him. Again, our main story feels very "Monster of the Week," although this week's "monster" is so much more. I love seeing this series get set up, and set up it gets as the Dark grows more powerful. Tom's family once again comes into play in the main story and I honestly forgot how much Tom's family (more than just his Mam) featured in the first few books. Now, this is the final book before stuff really hits the fan, and it's near the end of the first year of Tom's apprenticeship, there's a lot still yet to be discovered.

Foreshadowing: Once again it wasn't all that easy to see foreshadowing for this particular installment, it's been quite a few years since I read this book, and while I know the gist of what happens in this book, I was still taken by surprise from time to time. In fact, I've almost noticed a pattern in these books, a certain element to the story structure that I found very interesting. As for the larger series foreshadowing, while there isn't as much in here as the previous installment, I still saw small bits and pieces that point to future events in this series, things that won't happen for a while yet.

Ending: As this story reached its final climax things were getting very tense, but I do have to say that while I understand that these books are for a younger audience, it's hard for things to be too tense when Tom, our first-person protagonist, is the only one we care about in danger and there are a great deal more books in this series. Don't get me wrong, I really like the end of this book and the final climax was really interesting, but in the end, fell a bit flat. The cooldown period really shows that this series is getting darker and there are more adventures to be had ahead.


Once again I'm surprised to be giving an early book in this series five stars. I honestly thought I'd give them less, as I love the later installments a whole lot more, as that's where the main plot will be in full swing, and yet, for an early book in a Middle-Grade series, this story is very compelling and while it doesn't go into as many complex topics as a YA or Adult book would, it does go into some rather complicated moral places and I can't wait to continue my journey in this series.


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