Friday, 10 April 2015

Kit & Clowder Book Club Month 4 - February/March 2015

This was a busy month at Kit and Clowder and so we were given this book to read.  Normal service will be resumed for next month.

The Spook's Apprentice is the first book in Joseph Delaney's terrifying Wardstone Chronicles - over 3 million copies sold worldwide.

'Someone has to stand against the dark.  And you're the only one who can.'

For years, the local Spook has been keeping the County safe from evil.  Now his time is coming to an en, but who will take over?  Many apprentices have tried.  Some have floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.  Just one boy is left.  Thomas Ward.  He is the last hope.  But does he stand a change against Mother Malkin, the most dangerous witch in the County?

This book seems to go by many names depending on where in the world you purchase it; namely The Last Apprentice; Revenge of the Witch (USA), The Spooks Apprentice (UK and original title), The Seventh Son.  Publishers also did this with the Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone which in American was known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  This reader is at a loss as to why publishers feel the need to change a book’s title.  Is it that the American audience needs titles that are dumbed down?

Grabs you from the get go and there is loads to keep the reader interested including ghasts, ghosts, ghouls, boggarts, and really nasty witches.  However, the story does go through a bit of a lull before the paced is picked up again with about a third to go.  Although the nastier parts have been sanitised, to a degree, they are still there so allow your child to read this with caution and definitely not at night.  Perhaps the book is better for young teens to read but then the language used would be too simplistic.

The world making is authentic and you can imagine yourself walking over to those terrifying trees next to the farm.  You can also feel the angst that Thomas feels being the seventh son without a trade.  Thomas is, I guess, like most 13 year olds, curious, insecure, scared and clumsy.  He develops throughout the book and shows he is smart, brave, cunning and ingenious.  The Spook is just that spooky but I am sure he, and his relationship with Thomas, will be further developed in later books in the series.

The secondary characters are also intriguing and this reader definitely wants to know more about Thomas’s mother and her special skills.  There is definitely more than meets the eye with her.  Where, how and why did she get those skills and how are they different to those of the Spook?  The author just touches on certain aspects of these people which mean that they lack a certain depth.  It is hoped that these characters will be further developed, and that all these questions and more will, again, be answered in later books in the series.

One sad part of the book was the lack of support the family showed Thomas once he had started his apprentice.  This reader could understand why but family should see that Thomas is so much more than his new job.

Throughout the course of this novel many things were inferred which this reader thinks is far scarier, dark and creepy than when an author spells everything out in black and white.

The only thing really predictable about this book was the ending which involved the ubiquitous final showdown.  For me this was the best part of the book and you can see how the skills he has learned on his journey with the Spook come into use. 

Unfortunately, this reader is not overly impressed by this novel.  It is quite possible that this is because I am considerably older than the intended audience; and unlike tweens of today, I grew up watching Hammer House of Horror films, The Omen trilogy, Tales of the Unexpected, and Stephen King so my horror experience was rather more advanced than others of the same age.  I therefore found this plot and indeed the language too simplistic.  This reader is not convinced that much changes in later novels and so is still in two minds whether to continue with this series.

All this means that I rated this book as It was ok on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).

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