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Summary: Fall is ending, so the Spook (aka John Gregory) and Tom Ward (his apprentice)are moving to their winter quarters. Alice, Tom's friend and a Lamia witch, is not happy that she cannot join them at Anglezarke. Instead, she will live with a family nearby. Immediately, the trouble begins. Morgan, a failed apprentice, is working tirelessly to raise Golgoth and unleash his evil on the world. He is determined to use Tom to help him, and going so far as to hold captive the soul of Tom's recently departed father. As Tom faces his greatest challenges yet, he uncovers secrets about the Spook and ultimately betrays his mentor. Too late, Tom realizes what is happening. He must choose: save his father or save the world. What will it be? This is the third book in this story of the supernatural. It is a high interest/low readability title.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 8 and up
Interest Level: 9 and up
Reading Level: 3.6
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: I was worried about jumping into this series at Book Three, but my concerns went away quickly. The author does an effective job of telling the reader about previous events without bogging down the current story. Although this is largely a good v. evil tale, there are events that make it clear choosing "good" isn't always an easy answer. The story moves quickly, but not so quickly that teens can "skip over" the thought-provoking parts. In the end, I'm undecided about going back to read the previous books.
Pros: Preteens and teens who enjoy dark, dramatic fantasy will enjoy this adventure that gives them a front-row seat in learning about the "creatures of the night." This is a book that readers of all levels can enjoy ... and let struggling readers feel equal to their peers.
Cons: Some readers may find the story too "gothic." It is dark in its imagery as well as certain aspects of the story.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. If you love dark fantasy adventures, this is definitely your book. It is also a nice choice if you're undecided about the fantasy/magic/adventure books for teens. Still, it is not a classic tha I'd have in my personal library.
Educational Themes: This is a high interest/low reading level book meant to engage readers for entertainment. That said, the events, personalities, and dilemmas offer great discussion points in a small-group or classroom setting.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: January 2009
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.