For years, the local Spook has been keeping the County safe from ghosts and boggarts, but more especially from witches. The Spook’s Stories: Witches features stories from the Spook’s own collection; the stories include child-eating witches, witch assassins, Celtic witches, dead witches and witches so beautiful they can break a man’s heart… these are certainly not to be read after dark!
This gathering of five short stories is an invaluable addition to The Wardstone Chronicles; much is explained in detail and Delaney gives Spook’s devotees a greater insight into some of his most beloved and intriguing characters.
The first story recounts the tale of how the Spook, John Gregory, met and fell in love with a lamia witch Meg Skelton. Those who have read the third book in the series, The Spook’s Secret, will remember Tom’s and the Spook’s winter visit to the bleak and brooding Anglezarke Moor, to the house where Meg Skelton lived. This wonderful little story explains why the Spook did not place Meg in a pit as he would have done with any other witch and it also goes a long way to explaining the Spook’s latter day views on women, especially those with pointy shoes.
In the second story, Dirty Dora, things get decidedly darker. It is the tale of a dead witch, one who has been tried by water and pricking, and then executed. She has come back to wreak revenge on her tormentors. It is, once again, a superb story.
And then we come to Grimalkin, the witch assassin that has appeared throughout The Wardstone Chronicles. This tale tells of her relationship with the Fiend, whom she had a child with, and of her assassin training. Grimalkin is a wonderful character and if you ever wondered why she helps Tom, this story holds the answers.
The fourth tale is of Alice Deane, Tom’s friend (girlfriend?). Set prior to the events in The Spook’s Apprentice, telling of the time when Alice first became a witch, and her apprentice with the ghastly Bony Lizzie (from The Spook’s Battle). In The Spook’s Battle there was the horrendous Tibb and here we have a character to rival him in the form of Old Spig, Bony Lizzie’s familiar. This story is arguably the best of the bunch. What happens to Old Nanna Nuckle’s head is particularly gruesome.
And then finally we find ourselves with good old Master Ward shortly after of the events of The Spook’s Mistake. Tom is completing his apprenticeship to the unforgiving Arkwright, although it must be said that he is now a slightly mellower master. Here Joseph Delaney moves into the realm of Irish folk tales/mythology. This chilling account brings the curtain down on five first-rate stories.
Those who have read the six books in the Wardstone Chronicles and The Spook’s Tale (a short story written for World Book Day which has sold over 225,000 copies) will find this an invaluable companion piece. There’s nothing wick about this book, a must for young Spook’s.
About the author
Joseph Delaney lives in Lancashire. His home is in the middle of boggart territory and his village has a boggart called the Hall Knocker.
About the County
The Spook’s witch stories are set in the dark hag-ridden heart of the County (Lancashire). The fictional Witch Dell, which is close to the brooding mass of Pendle Hill, features in three of the stories, and other locations familiar to readers of the series are used: Chipenden (Chipping); Caster (Lancaster); Staumin (Stalmine) and the bleak Anglezarke Moor.
Review by Floresiensis
1 positive reader review(s) for The Spook's Stories: Witches
The Wardstone Chronicles began in 2004 with the publication of The Spook's Apprentice. In 2008 the fifth book in the series, The Spook's Mistake, was released to further complement a series that is without doubt the b [...]
Bob from England
Tt was so good that I read it in half a day.
9.5/10 from 2 reviews