Reviews for Night of the Soul Stealer
Booklist Reviews 2007 August #1
The third book in the Last Apprentice series follows the same pattern as previous titles, even as it raises the stakes. Thirteen-year-old Tom Ward, apprentice to Mr. Gregory, a Spook who clears the countryside of witches, ghasts, and boggarts, accompanies Mr. Gregory to the man's desolate winter home. There's trouble in the Spook's cellar, mostly dangerous witches bound in pits, but even more disquieting is a former apprentice, Morgan, who has learned the secrets of necromancy. Morgan is harrassing Tom's recently deceased father from beyond the grave and will continue to do so until Tom accedes to his wishes. One of the best things about this well-written series is the uncompromising horror Delaney provides at every turn. However, although the terror level is high here, readers may be inured to some of the crashing and bashing that goes along with evil run amok. Better are the nuanced interpersonal relations, especially the relationship between Tom and his mother, who is off to fight her own battles against evil. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #5
After an eventful but meandering second volume (Curse of the Bane, rev. 9/06), Delaney brings this series back to its virtues with a strong narrative line, economical but atmospheric scene-setting, and a boo-worthy antagonist (not to mention three implacable witches). Tom and the Spook are going off to spend the winter up on the moor ("folk need us up there -- especially when the nights draw in"), where Tom finds out that his master has many secrets -- like his love for the lamia witch Meg, who is kept drugged and imprisoned in the Spook's winter house. (Then there is her sister, the feral lamia witch Marcia...) The great battle, though, is with Morgan, an embittered former apprentice to the Spook who is determined to raise the dark power that resides beneath the moor. Delaney excels in navigating the territory between high and domestic fantasy: his characters are very much of this world, and the evils they face are grounded as much here as in myth. Readers will be pleased that the young witch Alice is along for the adventure and that we see growth in the relationship between the Spook and Tom -- although it's gratifyingly clear that the latter's apprenticeship is far from finished. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 July #2
The third and weakest episode in Delaney's Last Apprentice series takes narrator Tom Ward, his secretive master Old Gregory and canny young witch Alice to winter quarters on bleak Anglezarke Moor where, thanks to massive contrivances, they survive encounters with three blood-sucking witches, a boggart or two and a necromancer out to raise one of the old gods. Along with offering supernatural threats that are both fewer and less dangerous than in previous volumes, Delaney injects his plot with artificial peril by repeatedly having his protagonists inexplicably lie or refuse to impart important information to one another. He then sets up the climax with a cruel deception that is not only ludicrously complicated, but out of character for the gruff but fundamentally decent Gregory, and closes with Tom's newly widowed mother showing him chests of magic secrets that he's forbidden to open for several months. Arrasmith's dark chapter-head illustrations and appended "notebook" pages add atmosphere but not vitality to this limp, overlong outing. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 September #3
Tom Ward returns in Night of the Soul Stealer by Joseph Delaney, illus. by Patrick Arrasmith, in the Last Apprentice series (in a starred review, PW called the first book a "tantalizingly creepy tale of solitude and sorcery"). Tom and the Spook travel to the Spook's winter house, where they contend with a host of otherworldly foes, including one of the Spook's former apprentices. (Greenwillow, $16.99 512p ages 10-up ISBN 9780-06-076624-5; Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 February
Gr 5-8-- "I've seen some scary things, but living in a house with witch graves, bound boggarts, and live witches in the cellar didn't make me rest easy." With a move across the county to the damp, dark winter house in Anglezarke, 13-year-old Tom Ward returns for his third adventure, completing his first year as the Spook's apprentice. In this installment, Mr. Gregory (the Spook) and Tom, with the help of Alice, an untrustworthy young witch, try to gain power by raising the ancient god of winter, Golgoth. Along the way, they face a stone-chucker boggart, two lamia witches, and a failed former apprentice dabbling in necromancy. Readers new to the series will get filled in on some of the past adventures, making this volume stand alone, but the growth of the characters of the Spook and Tom's mam will be more appreciated by fans. The straightforward, simple language, reflecting the way that the Spook is teaching Tom to deal with fear and the Dark, along with wide margins and illustrations at the head of each chapter, makes this an excellent choice for reluctant readers. It's head and shoulders above formulaic horror series, and fans of Darren Shan's "Cirque du Freak" (Little, Brown) or kids looking for "scary stories" will not be disappointed.--Kelly Vikstrom, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD [Page 113]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 December
Tom Ward, the Spook's apprentice, is back, battling magical and horrific creatures in this third series installment. Mr. Gregory, his master, and Alice, the reformed girl-witch, return as well, and the trio has its hands full in this novel. Tom and Mr. Gregory have moved to Anglezarke for the winter, a darker spot than most, with even worse to come. Once arrived, Tom learns that his master has been keeping his beloved Meg, a feral witch, locked in the basement, and he requests that Tom ply her with a potion that helps her forget her true nature. Alice is sent to live with a farm family tortured by Morgan, a former (and failed) Spook apprentice who might be Mr. Gregory's son. Morgan has sinister plans to awaken Golgoth, an ancient god who will bring eternal winter and provide Morgan with unlimited power. Add a killer stone-throwing boggart and Meg's sister, who has reverted completely to her wild state, and one would expect a nail-biter of a novel. Unfortunately none of these elements are as creepy as they could be and all are resolved too quickly for any real tension. What is most disturbing is Meg being held captive and drugged, something that is less chills and thrills than plain unsettling. The previous books have been popular with fantasy fans, and this one may be as well, but it lacks the frights that made the others exciting.-Vikki Terrile PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-076625-2. 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.