Book review: The Spook’s Destiny by Joseph Delaney

The eighth book in Preston author Joseph Delaney’s thrilling Wardstone Chronicles moves into new territory with the awesome Spook and his young followers facing dangerous challenges across the sea in Ireland.

And a group of evil mages who dabble in human sacrifice and the Spook’s most formidable enemy – the devilish Dark itself – are all hot on their trail...

Retired schoolteacher Delaney has become something of a celebrity in the world of children’s fiction since he published his first book starring master magician John Gregory and his apprentice Tom Ward who battle supernatural forces in a landscape based on rural Lancashire.

Most of the places featured in his blood-soaked tales of witches, grave- wreckers, hall-knockers, boggarts, rippers and all kinds of other nasty creatures are instantly recognisable to locals.

Gregory, the irascible Spook, lives in Chipenden, no more than a few miles from adversaries like the dreaded Samlesbury stone-chucker and the terrifying Cockerham Boggart.

The Spook’s Destiny sees the master, Tom and their friend, the half- witch Alice, sailing to Ireland after fleeing the County which is in the grip of war.

Tom sold his soul to the Fiend to save other people’s lives and now the only thing protecting him and Alice from the clutches of the Devil is the fragile and precious bloodjar. Whatever happens, they must remain together and keep the jar intact.

As a freak storm breaks out over their ship, young Tom sees two staring and malevolent eyes – one green and one blue – amidst the churning, black clouds. It’s an ill omen as they approach an island which has more than its fair share of ghosts.

Once on shore, Tom is recruited to tackle the terrifying goat mages alliance of Kerry on a mission which ultimately leads him to the possession of the Spook’s Blade, a sword with a dark side and a thirst of its own for blood...

It’s the only weapon that has a fighting chance against the Fiend in combat. But first Tom needs training, and the only person who can help him is Grimalkin, the witch assassin, who lives back home in the County.

Will she come? And if she does, whose side will this creature of the dark be on?

Delaney’s latest instalment takes us on a breakneck speed, suspense- packed adventure, introducing a motley collection of hair-raising new enemies and some fascinating interplay on the fight between good and evil.

Ideal reading for the witching hours...

(Bodley Head, hardback, £9.99)