A Reader posted a review at 2007-07-13 01:28:19.
I'd never heard of the Spooks books but was lured into it by an ad plastered on the outside of a phonebox that had a quote from some reviewer saying it was the series for those who are tired of Harry Potter. I don't know if it's fair to compare them but it's true that I am a bit tired of HP (I am not even bothered about reading the new one). Anyway, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
I have just finished the first book, The Spook's Apprentice, and I loved it! I only picked it up on Tuesday and I've just finished it. It's only 324 pages, and they are smaller-than-average pages with what I think is larger-than-average print so it would probably only be about 12 pages in a normal book! So this is probably why I read it so quickly. But, that doesn't really impact on the story - it's a kids' book (well, teenage fiction I think) and the story is a nice length and moves at a great pace.
Let me tell you about the story. I'm not sure where the book is set (sounds like Ireland to me, or a fictional land that resembles it) or when but it's about this lad called Tom who works on a farm. An old-fashioned time when the men worked in the fields and the women cooked the food etc etc.
Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son, a sort of mystical status. When he is 13 his parents apprentice him to the local spook whereas the rest of his brothers move away to work on their own farms. The Spook is basically responsible for maintaining order in the county by keeping havoc raised by ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, and witches to a minimum. So anyway, at 13, Tom goes to live with the Spook and start his training.
It's grotty work, and lonely too. But it makes for a great story. This one involves mischievous witches and the disclaimer on the back of the book that warns against reading after dark is pretty accurate - I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It doesn't shy away from gruesome stuff and I don't feel it oversentimentalises things (but gives due attention where you'd expect to find it).
In short, this is another supernatural story about fighting beasties but it very much has a heart and more importantly, it has the ability to hold your attention. So this is book 1, and there are a few more. Rock on! I really enjoyed this and would heartily recommend it.