The Spook's Blood by Joseph Delaney

Rating 9.0/10
Full of twists and turns, both addictive and thrilling.

The Spook’s Blood is the tenth book in Joseph Delaney’s long-running Wardstone Chronicles (I think the series will run to thirteen, which seems an appropriate number) and it continues the return to form first seen in book nine, I Am Grimalkin. I am a Spooks fan and if ever I am asked to recommend great fantasy books for older children then I will immediately mention Joseph Delaney's work, but this recommendation has recently begun to feature this caveat - the first five books are amazing, the very best you'll find for the 9-12 age group, but books six through to eight fail to reach the same heights and appear to be unnecessarily stretching out the series. I must stress that this is only a personal opinion but reviews elsewhere seem to back-up these feelings. It's not that the books aren't any good - far from it in fact and I'm yet to read a poor Spooks book - it is just that they are decent books that pale when placed alongside the superb books found at the beginning of the series. However, I am now delighted to be able to say that the series is once again back on track and as much fun to read as ever!

Time is running out for Thomas Ward. His final battle against the Fiend is drawing near, and the Spook's apprentice has never felt more alone in his task. Isolated and afraid, the Fiend is set to send the greatest of his servants against him - Siscoi, a Vampire God more ferocious than anything he has yet faced. Tom must risk his life to prevent the evil beast from entering this world, even as he learns that the final destruction of the Fiend may involve a sacrifice more terrible than he can imagine...

A stand-out feature of the book is the aging of John Gregory and the maturing of Thomas Ward. Gregory's days of fighting the dark are almost over and Tom now must grow into the role of the Spook, even becoming the master of the house in Chippenden (and in a delightful sub-plot attempt to convince the breakfast-making/boundary-protecting boggart that its future lies with him). The fight against the dark is his, and the fate of the world lies with him also (thanks Mam - no pressure then!). When Delaney writes like this then it really does make for a read-in-one-sitting type of book, filled with fascinating character development, showcasing the constant changing of the intricate feelings found within relationships. There are genuinely chilling moments and a real sense that the fight, if lost, will have a massive impact upon the world as it is known.

It was a joy to once again experience the same reading enjoyment found in the first five books. The book was full of twists and turns, both addictive and thrilling and with as many questions answered as raised it left me greatly looking forward to reading the next instalments and reaching the end of this excellent series.

Highly recommended - Delaney back to his best.

If you are wondering where the film adaptation of The Spook's Apprentice is up to, why don't you check out the Seventh Son trailer that has recently been made available.

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