The Spook's Battle by Joseph Delaney

Rating 9.0/10
A must read for young and not so young adults.

In Pendle the witches are rising and the three most powerful witch clans are rumoured to be uniting in order to conjure an unimaginable evil. Together they will be capable of raising the dark made flesh – the Devil himself. Tom and the Spook need to set off for Pendle to avert the unthinkable. Before they go, the Spook tells Tom to journey home and collect the trunks Mam left behind for him. But what dark family secrets are contained in the trunks? And will they place Tom’s family in even greater danger or provide the help Tom and his master need in Pendle?

The delightfully dark Wardstone Chronicles continues with the fourth instalment in the series, The Spook’s Battle.

The Wardstone Chronicles provide old-fashioned fireside storytelling at its very, very best. Joseph Delaney has written one of the finest set of young-adult fantasy books to appear in recent times; compelling, chilling and enormously enjoyable. The County where the Spook's books are set is based on the real English county of Lancashire. Many of the place names have been adapted from real place names to create a mythical Lancashire that the Spook and Tom inhabit. Among others, Preston becomes Priestown, Lancaster is renamed Caster, Blackpool changed to the Black Pool and Chipping is now Chipenden.

The three books prior to The Spook’s Battle all featured a memorable and fearsome adversary that the Spook and Tom must face. The Spook’s Apprentice had Mother Malkin, The Spook’s Curse the Priestown Bane, and The Spook’s Secret had Golgoth, the Lord of Winter. To top these Delaney gives us the Devil himself, ably abetted by the formidable Mistress Wurmalde, the appalling Tibb and a more witches than you could shake a stick at.

Central to the story is the location of Pendle, an area steeped in history and famous for the witch trials. It is a place full of fear, distrust and horror. The Pendle Witches were the most famous witches in English history and were responsible for the murder by witchcraft of seventeen people in and around the Forest of Pendle. This is where Joseph Delaney sends Tom, Alice and the Spook. A grim and foreboding place, the party travels east towards Pendle.

‘Well, there it is, lad,’ said the Spook, coming to a halt some distance from a stream that lay in our path. He pointed towards Pendle Hill, which had been growing steadily as we advanced towards it. ‘Not a pretty sight, is it?’ I couldn’t help agreeing. Although its shape reminded me of the Long Ridge, a local fell beyond the valley to the south of Chipenden, this was larger and more daunting. Above it was suspended a threatening bank of thick black clouds.
The Spook’s Battle: East To Pendle

The Wardstone Chronicles are all written in the first person with a sparkling narrative full of tension and excitement. There are moments of horror and moments of humour, all set within a beautifully recreated Lancashire. All four books are off a similar standard – excellent – and it has been many years since I have enjoyed an ongoing series to this extent. The characters are wonderful, The Spook, Tom and Alice are now old friends but the reason that such freshness is kept is thanks to the clever introduction of new characters, good and evil, at just the right time. The most memorable new character in The Spook’s Battle is Mistress Wurmalde:

For the first time Mistress Wurmalde’s eyes fixed directly upon mine and I saw them widen slightly. Then her nostrils flared and she gave a short sniff in my direction. And in that contact, which lasted no more than a second at most, an ice-cold chill passed from the back of my head and down into my spine. I knew that I was in the presence of someone who dealt with the dark. I was filled with the certain conviction that the woman was a witch. And in that instant I realized that she also knew what I was. A moment of recognition had passed between us.
The Spook’s Battle: Mistress Wurmalde

In writing the Spook’s series Joseph Delaney has draw upon his own experiences. On first leaving school he worked as an apprentice engineer and had to follow a tradesman around carrying his bag of tools. Just like Tom, Joseph even had a notebook in which, as he was taught his trade, he made sketches and records of repairs he'd successfully completed.

The Spook’s Battle is another highly impressive instalment in this great series. A must read for young and not so young adults.

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from Flollo


1 of my favorite books in the series, I have all the books but I find this book has the most twists and turns :D

9.5/10 from 2 reviews

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