Friday, April 24, 2015

The Wardstone Chronicles / Book Review



Thomas Ward is a seven son of a seven son. His father, a farmer, has decided to left the farm to his older son, Jack, and since then he worked really hard to find the prefect trail for his other 5 sons. Now is Tom’s turn, but what his father has in mind would not be a choice for most families, be the apprentice of a Spook.
Spooks are very rare, they deal with the dark and thanks to that they have lonely lives. People are afraid of the spooks for all the evil things they have to face, but they are very necessary too. They are the first one the call when a supernatural situation afflicts them.
Now Tom is about to start his apprenticeship with John Gregory, the best spook the county has had. Tom would be the apprentice number 30 of Mr. Gregory, and probably the last one. Not all the kids finish the apprenticeship, some of them quit, most of them die in the process. Being a  Spook is a very dangerous trail.
Tom would learn to put his fears aside, he would discover that he not only posses the gifts that a seven son of a seven son has against the dark, he also posses gifts from his mother side. His momma came from a foreign land, and there’s a mist of mystery enfolding her.
During his first year as an apprentice, Tom would become friend of Alice Deanne, a girl who is in a constant battle of becoming a malevolent witch. Alice doesn’t want to be a witch, but she doesn’t have much choices. Still, Tom and Alice became best friends, even when Mr. Gregory is not content at all with the situation.
Other characters would join during the years to come, and together they would face the forces of the dark, specially seal the greatest evil the County has faced, the Fiend himself, Old Nick, or the Devil as we know it.
There are 13 books on this saga:
1.      The Spook’s Apprentice or Revenge of the Witch: in which Tom stars his apprenticeship, and must face the evil witch know as Mother Malkin and then Bonny Lizzie, Alice’s aunt. 
2.      The Spook’s Curse or Curse of the Bane: Tom and his Master must travel to Priest town and face a malevolent spirit who has been trap on the tunnels under the cathedral.
3.      The Spook’s Secret or Night of the Soul Stealer: An ex-apprentice of Mr. Gregory came back, and he’s seeking revenge. He’s a dark mage, and want to gain power over an Old God.
4.      The Spook’s Battle or Attack of the Fiend: Tom travels with his master to Pendle district, the place where the most powerful clans of witches live, the Deannes, the Mouhdheel and the Malkin, they are planning to bring to earth the Fiend, and the spook and his apprentice must prevent it.
5.      The Spook’s Mistake or Wrath of the Bloodye: With the Fiend back on earth, the forces of the darkness are increasing, Tom is send to the north with Bill Arkwright, the spook of that part of the county, and an ex-apprentice of Mr. Gregory to learn combat and fighting and hardened himself. He would learn about water witches and would face the worst of them, a very old witch that was the daughter of the Fiend himself.
6.      The Spook’s Sacrifice or Clash of the Demons:. After spending 6 months on the north, Tom returns with Mr. Gregory, but a letter from his mom would disturb the momentary peace. Tom now most travel to Greece with her, but not only that, they would have to join forces with the witches clans to prevent the rise of an old god.
7.      The Spook’s Nightmare or Rise of the Huntress: The County is in war, people are fighting for their life, farms have been attacked, and being a Spook would only made them an easy target. Mr. Gregory takes the decision to left the County for a while taking Tom and Alice to protect them, they go to a small Island in which the people would chase them and try to judge them as witches. They would face a dark creature, a shaman, and an old enemy, Bony Lizzie. This was my less favorite book of the saga for the fact that there are dog fights and really caused me trouble to keep reading it, still, the rest of the story was good and I enjoyed the ending.
8.      The Spook’s Destiny or Rage of the Fallen: The Spook, Tom and Alice left to Ireland since war keeps attacking the County, it’s not safe to go back home, so they must find refuge once more. In this installment they would fight a powerful group of Mages who are trying to bring to earth the powerful God Pan. In the process they would find a way to temporarily seal the Fiend, gaining time to find a way to destroy it once and for all
9.      I am Grimalkin or Grimalkin the Witch Assassin: by far my favorite book of the saga, tells the adventures of this amazing character while she carries the Fiend’s head and prevent his followers to bring body and head together. On this book we would learn too how Grimalkin became the witch assassin of the Malkin clan.
10.  The Spook’s Blood or Lure of the Fallen: Tom, his Master and Alice are back to the County, but they find destruction and sadness wherever they go. The house of Chippenden was burned and the Spook has lost his precious library. A note came telling him that a woman is willing to sell some books to him, but they most travel to a Town that hide something. People don’t look fine to foreigners, and nobody stays outside after dark. Spook and Apprentice would fight a powerful clan of Romanian witches and an old god that is going to be rise.
11.  Spook’s Slither’s Tale or Slither: the story of Slither, a kobalo being which is like a werewolf but also a mage. My second less favorite book until Grimalkin made her appearance and then become really enjoyable.
12.  Spook’s Alice or I am Alice: to destroy the Fiend once an for all, a ritual must be perform during Halloween, there are three instruments necessaries in the ritual, and one of them is under the Fiends throne. Alice most travel to the dark to recover it and help Tom with the ritual. I love that during the book we learn more about Alice who has always been surrounded by mystery.
13.  The Spook’s Revenge or Fury of the Seventh son: the last installment of the saga, a few weeks before Halloween The spook, Tom, Alice and Grimalkin are desperate to find another way to end with the Fiend that is not necessary the ritual. This is it, this is going to be the last battle, the one that would decide the faith of the County and the whole World.

There are short stories from which I read The Spook’s Stories: Witches, a collection of five short stories from Meg Skelton, the spooks love, Dirty Dora, Grimalkin, Alice and The Banshee Witch. I would recommend to read this one before The Spook’s Destiny, since it would help to understand more about what is hunting Tom during that book.
Finally there’s a new Chronicles The Starblade which is intended to be a trilogy following the adventures of Tom as a Spook now. The first book is A new Darkness. But I’m not going to read it until the release date of the second one is announced.

Each book is amazing and I really loved that there are explanations of the symbols, a map and summaries of the principal characters. There’s something special in the main characters that really make you love them
John Gregory:  he could be strict in his point of view about the dark, but he’s fair and would learn that not everything is black and white. He would compromise his principles and learn that sometimes you can use the dark against the dark, and not only that, you can be comrade and respect those who are fighting with you no matter their previous life or what they are.
Favorite quotes:
“If we could only change the hearts of men and women, the dark would be weakened”
“Always beware a woman who wears pointy shoes!”
Thomas Ward: at the beginning of the chronicles he’s totally a momma’s boy, but you love him even more because he always tries to do his best, he puts friendship first sometimes, but always follows his master advise to put the County first. He would leave behind his fears, endure pain and loss, but at the end, he would do the best he can, and helps those he loves. You see him grow from book to book turning this young man who makes so proud his master no matter what.
“You’d better hope that you’re right Mab. If I survive, you’re going to be very sorry. One day I’ll come back to Pendle for you. Especially for you. And you’ll spend the rest of your life in a pit eating worms!” this is the first glint we have of what Tom would become one day, the hunter not the prey.
“That image of him is burned into my memory and will remain with me to my dying day”
Alice Deanne: she lost her parents and was reclaimed for her aunt Bonny Lizzie, a malevolent witch who would teach her all about dark magic and healing, while making her suffering terrible things and nightmares in the process. Alice is one of my favorite characters not only because she becomes a good friend to Tom, helping him and doing whatever it takes to see him safe. She finds her home beside him, even when old Gregory is not so happy about it, but in the process she would help Mr. Gregory too.
“Didn’t want to be a witch, did I? But sometimes you’ve no choice and things just happen”
“Gave me a slap across the back of my head so hard that it almost knocked me into the middle of next week”
Grimalkin: the witch assassin of the Malkin clan, OMG! What a fantastic character. She was send to kill Tom, but he managed to free himself of her, and that would bring a series of new adventures, making of Grimalkin not only a recurrent characters but one of the principal characters of the chronicles. And by far my favorite!
She declared her war against the Fiend from a young age, and since then she had been making everything possible to become the best witch assassin of history. Her book in my favorite of the saga! She’s so strong, honorable, and really amazing.
There are so many amazing quotes from her, just take as example the beginning of each chapter from her book, but here are a couple:
“I am a creature of the now and I live in the present”
“This was the calm, I was the storm”
“Each day say to yourself that you are the best, the strongest and the most deadly. Eventually you will start to believe it. Finally it will come true. It came true for me. I am Grimalkin”
“I am a hunter and also a blacksmith, skilled in the art of forging weapons. I could craft one especially for you, the steel that would surely take your life.

And my favorite:  “Never give in! Never Surrender!”

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