This book was provided to me courtesy of Random House India for review purposes.
As always, lets discuss covers first. If I saw this cover in a store, I would never buy the book, but I am sure my brother would. However, if it were the original diary -like covers, I would have swooped down on them in no time. The book also contained some really nice black and white illustrations at the beginning of every chapter, adding another whimsical touch to the reading.
I am not sure about the correct way to classify this book. Would it be plain fantasy or would it be better classified as what is now called ‘young adult’? The trouble for me was the style of the writing. For example, Harry Potter is the quintessential children’s fantasy novel; even though people die in the books, the language and style of writing is relatively simple, there is never really any overt violence in the book, and there are very clear demarcations of right and wrong. Also, the love affairs are innocent and childish enough to feel just right for the story. And then there is the Game of thrones series, which is a purely adult fantasy series with extreme violence and gore, interspersed with liberal doses of sex and mayhem. The language is also adult and more aggressive and suits the tone of the book. This book on the other hand is a mix of simple language and a lot of violent imagery. Somehow reading about a witch ‘laying’ with a fiend to give birth to ‘abhumans’ just doesn’t feel like children’s literature to me. How old is exactly the individual who comes under the ‘young adult’ category? The language seemed too simple for a teenager and the content seemed too adult for a kid. Oh yes, I maybe a bit too puritanical for the current times, but I really think children should be allowed their childhood innocence as long as possible.
Spoilers in the paragraph ahead. Skip to the next one for my views on the book, if you haven’t already figured them out.
That apart, what I liked about this book was that, although this was the thirteenth and final book in the ‘Wardstone chronicles’, I did not have much trouble in figuring out the story, which is always a good thing when reading a series. Tom ward is the spook’s apprentice and is also the seventh son of a seventh son. His mother was a powerful witch and his father was a simple, hard-working human. Spook’s are men who fight witches and other assorted magical creatures, sort of like ghost-busters. The witches have brought a ‘fiend’ to life by their magic in an earlier book, who was then killed and beheaded by Tom and friends, but the body parts were kept apart as if they are put together the fiend will come to life again! In this book the witches are trying to get the fiend’s head from Tom Ward’s friend to join it to the head. Pretty gory, when you hear it like that.
I can’t say that I loved the book but I didn’t hate it either. I can understand its appeal to some people, but I would recommend starting from the first series for others to feel invested in the outcomes of the lives of the main characters. I think that was my main problem with the book that I never felt any sympathy or empathy for Tom Ward. This book was not my cup of tea for sure, and remember I am no stranger to violence-filled fantasy reading. Maybe I was simply too old for it.