August 31, 2013

Night of the Soul Stealer

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, Delaney does a wonderful job of creating scary moments. In Night of the Soul Stealer, he creates the worst, or best, moment yet.

****This post has Spoiler Warnings****

The Spook’s winter home is in Anglezarke, a forbidding uncomfortable place with no boggart to warm the house or cook the meals. As if this was not bad enough, the cellar is full of live witches and boggarts. At one point when the Spook is sick, (he seems to be sick a lot lately!) Tom ends up trapped in the house, a powerful blood witch, a feral lamia witch, and an angry domestic, mostly benevolent, lamia witch are on the loose, all trying to hurt Tom. And just to help your mind conjure the awful witches in perfect, vivid imagination, Delaney provides pictures. I cannot impress upon you how suspenseful and awful this scene was, but perhaps the image of Marcia Skelton will help reveal how creepy it was.
I much prefer this gorgeous Lamia:
It was created by AbigailLarson on Deviantart. I love her work, and highly recommend checking her out here. Apart from these very scary women there are the two “main” antagonists: Morgan and Gorgoth. I put it in quotation marks because while they were meant to be the main antagonists, I thought they distracted from the overarching plot. While the end adventure and confrontation of the Spook’s old apprentice, Morgan, and the winter god, Gorgoth (Every time they talked about the winter god making winter worse or making it last for years I wanted to shout, “Winter is Coming!” It’s hard to resist.) was exciting, the lead up with Morgan was irritating. I just wanted the Spook to take care of Morgan, to throw him in a hole and bind him. And the confrontation of the winter god (Winter is Coming!) was anti-climactic. He is freezing Tom to death, but then just fades away. Tom’s showdown with Marcia, Meg, and Bessy was much scarier and more satisfying.

On to the questions! As usual, Delaney has answered some and given a handful more. For which I can only love him.

Tom's Mom

We learn a bit more about her this book. She almost certainly is a Lamia witch, but then are her sisters Meg and Marcia? I sure hope not. What is in the secret room? I am dying to know.

The Spook's Love

As I said before, we met Meg during this book. She’s not as benevolent as I had imagined. I have most firmly decided that she is okay when the Spook is around at full strength, but without him? Oh my gosh, no. She is scary. And her sister? Ugh. I don’t care that the Spook doesn’t like to burn witches. Burn her. Burn her NOW.


Good news for Alice! She was wonderful this entire book! Now she just has to stay that way…

When will the Spook die?

Well the Spook is still alive, but Tom still has four more years of training left until he is a Spook. Mr. Gregory’s health is waning, most certainly. He spent a great deal of this book sick in bed, and not only did Tom’s mother confirm it, but Mr. Gregory himself said that he wasn’t long for this world.
This book receives another firm five out of five stars, even though I did not appreciate the Gorgoth and Morgan plotline as much as the rest. It was still a devastatingly wonderful read, and I cannot wait to read book four tomorrow.

August 30, 2013

Curse of the Bane

****This post will contain spoilers****

       Curse of the Bane was a wonderful follow up to Revenge of the Witch.  It didn’t fall short of my expectations, and I actually was moved to vocalize my shock several times.  Two of these gasp-worthy moments were because of Delaney’s gross descriptions.  Since I wrote last post about how creepy these stories were and how I felt they were not really Middle School, I will show the passages to give an example of what I was talking about:

We find out Tom's mother's hand was nailed to a rock, and she tears it off herself!  I cannot even bare to tear scabs off!  Tearing muscle, skin, and tendons sounds gusting and highly painful!  

Also we get great detail about a squished cat.  Disgusting.  It would have been sufficient to say that the cat, and everyone else who is squished in this book was just ‘pressed’ by the Bane, but he goes on in morbid detail.  Forget eating dinner during those parts…

       I also really like the development of the antagonists in the book.  There are a few antagonists in this book.  There is the Bane: creepy, very powerful and evil, was once a god, can squash things to death, shape shift, and insert itself into your mind to try to control.  Highly creepy, but honestly I did not consider him a large threat for most of the book.  Why?  Immediacy.  The antagonist who makes the most trouble for three-fourths of the book is the Quisitor, not the Bane.

       The Quisitor is a powerful man who collects witches and warlocks and kills them by either burning or dunking.  Sound familiar?  Probably because he is the very like the Spanish Inquisition.  

       Alice tells Tom that the Quisitor is worse than the Bane, and when she says it I agreed with her.  The Quisitor tortured her and Mr. Gregory, and was going to execute Mr. Gregory.  Drowning and burning are very unpleasant long ways to die.  At least the Bane gives its victims a fast, albeit squishy, death.  

       But then you realize that the reason all the people are allowing the Quisitor to kill so many people is the Bane.  And then the Bane is set free and he threatens not only Alice, Mr. Gregory, Tom, and the rest of the County, but he hurts the boggart who guards the Spook’s house!

       I love the Boggart; he is one of my favorite characters although he is quite minor.  So let’s talk about him!  He is invisible most of the time and protects the house from anything unwanted.  And by ‘protects’ I mean it will crunch on the intruders’ bones. 

       He also makes food, and if you don’t complement the meal your next one won’t be very good…  When he appreciates Tom’s compliment he turns into an orange tabby and will rub against Tom’s leg.  Adorable.  An invisible, benevolent boggart who protects you, cooks for you, and can turn into a cat?  I want one!

       We did get a few answers to those questions I discussed for book one, and just to confuse us, we got a few more to puzzle at!

Who is Tom's Mother?

We got half an answer to this, but still I have more questions.  Is she a Lamia, or not?  Why does the sun affect her so much?  Why can she see the future?  Who are her sisters?  When will she leave?

Will Alice turn bad?
Well, Alice turned into a bad witch because of the Bane, but now she is back to good?  So we are back to square one.  Whether she will ultimately turn out to be Tom’s ally or enemy, we still do not know.

The Spook's Death
Nothing yet, but we did get a clue about his death: the curse.  Now we just have to wait for it to happen :(

The Spook's Love
What happened to her?  Is she good or bad?  Does she have any connection to Tom’s mom?

I give book two a five out of five, as it was just as good, if not better than the last book.  I will be reading book three, Night of the Soul Stealer, tomorrow.  Look for the next post!

Have you read this book?  Let me know what you thought about it!

Have a suggestion for me to read?  Suggest a title and I will add it to my To-Read List!

August 29, 2013

The Spook's Apprentice

Joseph Delaney’s book, Revenge of the Witch, is terrifying, eerie, and absolutely riveting.

I wanted to read this book because the movie is coming out soon.  It is based on the book and called The Seventh Son.  When I saw the trailer and realized the awesome cast it hosted, I knew I had to see it.  A fantasy movie with Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, and Jeff Bridges?  Epic.  So I set off to read book one in a well-known series I had never heard of.

Synopsis: The Revenge of the Witch is the story of Tom Ward, seventh son of a seventh son, who is destined to be the next Spook, and ride the world of ghosts, witches, boggarts, and other things that go ‘bump’ in the night.  It is a scary, dangerous job, but Tom doesn’t have any other options. 
Mr. Gregory, the current Spook, takes Tom on as his apprentice and begins teaching him.  The things that go ‘bump’ are not waiting for Tom to finish learning though, and while the Spook is away on a mission a young girl tricks Tom into freeing one of the most evil witches: Mother Malkin.  Tom must re-trap the witch before she kills Tom, Mr. Gregory, and Tom’s family.

When I picked up this book at the library I was a bit worried.  It is housed, in my library, in the Middle School section.  I often feel silly going to the teen section to shamelessly grab a YA book, but Middle School?  I was worried the writing would be too juvenile to stomach.  Another worry was because this is the story of a 13 year old boy.  Being female, I usually like stories that have female protagonists, even if they are not the main protagonist.  

With these worries in mind, I read the book and oh. my. gosh.  Delaney writes an incredible story!  While the writing was perhaps a tiny bit juvenile, I would say it was better than most YA authors manage.  His prose is simple, but descriptive and engaging, sometimes perilously so.

The book is also supposed to be quite scary, but I’m a big girl, I’ve seen a few horror movies, read Goosebumps…that totally dates the era I grew up in…I figured I’d be fine!  And I was…mostly?  Revenge of the witch is filled with bone and blood witches who steal children to eat them and make baby cakes with their blood.  Ew.  There are also creepy crawlies that want to eat Tom, bones that re-animate themselves, and creepy witches who jump out and grab at Tom.  Definitely not a scream out loud scary, but I recommend investing in a nightlight.  

As to my concern about the 13 year old Tom Ward, I loved him.  He is brave, smart, and self-reliant.  When he messes up he uses his own brain and resources to get the job done.  He also surprised me with his level of intuition and maturity.  Although he still runs to his mother when he goes home, (who wouldn’t when your job is hunting the evil creepy things of the world?) he realizes that he will be lonely most of his life.  As his brother begins to turn against him, and townspeople give him a wide berth, Tom sees what life as a Spook will be like.  He handles this realization with a great deal of maturity.  I honestly don’t know how I would deal with that, and I am almost twice his age and deal with solitude rather well.

There was a female character, though I had not expected her to be such a large character.  While I usually gravitate toward female characters, the character of Alice kept me on my toes.  I still cannot guess if she is going to ultimately be a good or bad character.  I am leaning towards good, but Delaney leaves it teetering, she could be good, she could be bad.  We just have to wait and see!

Delaney also left me with a few questions that I am dying to unriddle:

Tom's Mom

Why does she know so much about the Spook?  Why does she have powers, and what are they?  Why was it her ‘duty’ to marry a seventh son so she could have Tom?


 Will she be a good or bad witch?

When will the Spook die?

Because Tom has to become the official Spook at some point…

I give this book a five out of five stars.  It was that amazing.  I absolutely will be reading the remainder of the series.  My only regret now is that the trailer looks nothing like the book and I am worried that I will hate it.