Clash of the Demons by Joseph Delaney
In Clash of the Demons, the sixth book in Joseph Delaney’s LAST APPRENTICE series, expect more of the same: scary creatures, dark magic, dangerous quests, captures and rescues, Tom’s insecurities, questions about whether Alice is good or evil, the Spook’s insistence that they can’t compromise with the dark, foreshadowing of war, etc.
This time, the quest is to accompany Tom’s mother to Greece where they must fight an ancient witch called Ordeen who threatens a group of monks who for years have held her at bay and protected the world from her evil. The monks are growing weak, though, and they need some powerful help. They may be able to destroy Ordeen once and for all if Tom’s mother can unite the witches and spooks against her.
This presents several problems for Tom. First is that the Spook, his master, refused to work with witches and will release Tom from his apprenticeship if Tom goes with them to Greece. The second is that Tom realizes he doesn’t know his mother as well as he thought and he’s not sure what her intentions are toward him. Is it possible that when she told him he would save the world that she meant he’d have to be a sacrifice? And what is his mother anyway? She must not be human… and if she’s not human, what is Tom?
Readers who’ve enjoyed this series so far (and there are a lot of them — it is really popular!) will probably feel no differently about Clash of the Demons. As I said, it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect. It’s really frightening, gory in parts, there are a couple of sad deaths, and there are ethical dilemmas for Tom and the Spook. Should the good guys use dark magic to fight the dark if that’s the only way to defeat it? If they do, do they risk their own souls? Since Alice has an evil family, does that mean she’s destined to be evil? Is there a God who is good? What happens after we die?
These are interesting and important questions and I am glad they’re being presented to children. But, it’s the same questions and dilemmas in every LAST APPRENTICE book so far, so it’s feeling repetitive at this point. Still, the overarching plot does progress by a fraction and Tom learns more about his mother, Alice, and their potential roles in their fight against the dark. In this installment children will also learn a bit about Greek mythology and more about occult beliefs and practices. All in all, it’s a solid series.
I continue to listen to, and enjoy, Harper Audio’s nice audio production narrated by Christopher Evan Welch. This one is almost 7 hours long.
The Last Apprentice (The Wardstone Chronicles) — (2004-2015) Ages 9-12. In the UK, these are The Wardstone Chronicles (The Spook’s Apprentice, The Spook’s Curse, The Spook’s Secret, The Spook’s Battle, The Spook’s Mistake, The Spook’s Sacrifice). Publisher: A wonderful and terrifying series by a new writer about a young boy training to be an exorcist. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins …
Other Last Apprentice Tales:
The Starblade Chronicles — (2014- ) Publisher: The first book in a chilling new trilogy from the author of the internationally bestselling Last Apprentice series! Tom Ward is an apprentice no longer—he is a full-fledged spook battling boggarts, witches, and other creatures of the dark. First in a three-book arc that introduces brand-new readers to Joseph Delaney’s haunting world. Tom Ward is the Spook, the one person who can defend the county from bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not till he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice—even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it. A New Darkness begins a three-book arc that will introduce new readers to Joseph Delaney’s deliciously scary imagination and electrify his longtime fans. A New Darkness is perfect for every reader who loves thrills, chills, action, and adventure—no prior knowledge of The Last Apprentice series necessary! The Last Apprentice series, the first internationally bestselling series about Tom Ward, is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin.