Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review of THE SPOOK'S SECRET (Wardstone, #3)

Much, much, MUCH better than the Spook's Curse, thank goodness!

In this third installment of the Wardstone Chronicles, Thomas Ward and his master, the Spook, head over to Anglezarke for the winter season. While there, Tom uncovers more secrets about the Spook's shady past, including a menacing former apprentice bent on destroying the Spook - and the whole County.

Delaney's flair for descriptions has returned full force! Like in The Spook's Apprentice, the setting played a substantial role in the shaping of the story, and Delaney has an obvious knack for truly illustrating each scene. - One of the things I didn't like about its immediate predecessor was the impertinent and condescending tone of the story - in other words, there was way too much of an agenda. Here, for the most part, we go back to a basic story: there's action, there are revelations, there's character development, there's intrigue and suspense, and true to the series' overall nature, a bit of horror too. Now I will say that the Designated Supernatural Creature of this story is almost identical to the Designated Supernatural Creature of The Spook's Curse: a mysterious and seemingly all-powerful spirit-figure that is likened to a pagan god. That bit of repetition was a drawback, as was the Spook's continued crabbiness to all things "churchy".

But the bread-and-butter of Spook's Secret lies in the revelations: we learn so much about the Spook's past here and it's a rollercoaster of a story, too. There were so many twists and turns (like on a rollercoaster - only without the tummyache) that every time I thought I had things figured out, I found myself mistaken. I liked the Spook, then I hated him, then I liked him again, etc.

The best characters, though, are Tom and Alice. Tom especially goes through so much in this book, and it's so enjoyable to watch him mature! I'm ready for him to start aging, though. The three books so far have amounted to only a year's time and I personally like series books to get a bit more sequential: 1 year between each installment seems ideal, not one-right-after-the-other. I think going into Book #4 he'll be 14...hopefully. I want him to grow up!

So much, much better than The Spook's Curse, but still not as good as Apprentice. The series lacks a Main Villain character, so there seems like a lack of focus...idk, that may just be me. And Delaney still is really ambiguous when it comes to philosophical stuff... and that gets on my nerves. For example, he's got this godlike spirit that is powerful enough to "snuff out your soul," yet he's pretty much at the beck-and-call of human summonings? That's awkward, Mr. Delaney! Make up your mind! Oh, well. Mr. Delaney probably knows that I'll keep reading the series anyway, cause I'm a sucker for Tom Ward, haha.

Rating: 4.5/5. Slightly under the Perfect-5-Star rating, but very very good!
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