Saturday, February 6, 2010


This is definitely the axis book around which the series will start to evolve… and it’s about time, too – holy cow, this is book #4! I felt like The Spook’s Battle in particular was a long time coming. Why? Well, we finally start to piece together Alice’s background, and we also get hands-on dealings with the most malevolent witches in the County! After hearing about them for the better part of 3 books, I was excited to actually see them. We also get more insight into Tom’s family dynamics, including his mysterious mother and her quickly-unraveling past… interesting!

HOWEVER, the pacing of the overall series is starting to get on my nerves – the last 4 books have taken place roughly over a year’s time…that is waaaaaay to slow (in my opinion, at least). I said this in the review for The Spook’s Secret: I’m ready for Tom to start growing up! He’s matured so much emotionally, yes, but he still functions like a young kid... Alice is starting to slightly surpass Tom as my favorite character! She’s quite the underdog, though: nobody trusts her and everybody is just waiting for her to screw up. Now granted, she is a witch with a shady past, but come on, give her a break! It’s like your Typical Girl scenario: you’ve got a problem, but for some reason the menfolk can’t seem to get their act together and solve the problem, so you do it, then they jump on you because they don’t like your methods! Poor Alice! I can certainly relate, haha.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND: one thing Delaney does really, really well is “connect-the-dots”. I love it when a series author finds ways to reiterate certain points from previous books into the current book. There were quite a lot of things from Apprentice and Curse, for example, that I managed to forget, so it was good of Delaney to remind me how everything relates to each other. The only thing I’m unsure about is his order-of-events. For example, he had a really good “recap” conversation between two characters where you as the reader are given an explanation for something that happened earlier on in the series – however, this conversation occurs at the very end of the story, so you go through 300+ pages of “WHAT THE?!?!?!” before you get your answer. To me, that’s not really suspense, that’s distracting. If I’m paying so much attention to a particular unexplained plot point, and I’m given no “hold-your-horses, I’ll-get-to-the-explanation-later” from the author (and authors do give you clues that they’re not going to leave you hanging – JK Rowling, for example) it becomes hard for me to concentrate on the rest of the story. Maybe that’s just me, though… So bottom line: Delaney does tie up loose ends and tie in his previous stories with the present one, he just does it at weird times… -

ANOTHER THING I really like about Delaney and this series: his creativity at times gets off-the-charts. No, he didn’t “create” boggarts, wights, and witches, but he puts his own personal touches on creatures and legends you thought you knew already, and the result is near-constant surprise on part of the reader. I was certainly impressed. On the other hand: the last 3 books in a row have pretty much used the same idea when it comes to your “creature of the dark” – a malevolent, spirit thing that has been/could be mistaken for some kind of godlike being. The Bane. Golgoth. The Fiend. I want something more original, please. Just having the three covens of evil witches would have sufficed, at least in my opinion. And that brings me to my next point:

This series is starting to move in the “philosophical direction” and I’m not sure how I feel about that. For one thing, I don’t find “those questions” necessary for good fantasy fiction: take a hint from JK Rowling, whose whole story revolves around witches and wizards, yet she never says anything negative about religion. Seriously, Mr. Delaney: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! Now granted, I like stories that are about that cosmic, seemingly-metaphorical “Light/Dark” battle, but could we please not get religion-specific? Or at least, leave the religion-specific stuff to people like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti who actually know what they’re talking about? Please?! Oh well, it may sound like I’m ragging on the series, but I really do like it! I’m definitely hooked at this point!

Rating: 4.5/5 - Despite my little snitty comments (haha), I really liked this book and highly recommend the whole series!
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