(The Last Apprentice: Book 10)
Author: Joseph Delaney
Genre: YA (Fantasy)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pub Date: August 21, 2012
Hardcover: 432 pages
Is There a Pooka In This Book?: No. But three poor rabbits are roasted on a spit over a fire and consumed.
Pooka Rating: 2.75 out of 5 Nibbles
This review is going to be fast and dirty, much like Lure of the Dead itself. And don’t get all excited, thinking that maybe the book was the good kind of dirty (that’d be weird, since it’s a Middle Grade/YA novel… but I can’t say I’d be against reading some slightly racy Alice/Tom fanfic. Does that make me sick? Probably. Oh, well). No. It was the blood and guts and offal kind of dirty. Eww, offal…
(I was going to insert a picture of offal here, but I just can’t “stomach” it.)
Lure of the Dead is the tenth book in The Last Apprentice series, the first of which was recently made into a movie called Seventh Son, with Julianne Moore & Jeff Bridges (it was just released on my birthday, January 17th!). The books focus on a boy named Tom Ward, who is twelve-years-old when the series starts, but ages to sixteen by the tenth book. He’s the apprentice to a man named John Gregory, also known as “The Spook.” It’s a Spook’s job to protect the County and the world from things that go bump in the night, and Tom’s learning everything he can as quickly as he can from his Master. He was raised by simple farm folk, so the change is eye-opening. His first friend is a girl named Alice, who turns out to be a witch, and the series includes not only creatures from fantasy (like witches), but creatures and gods from Greek mythology, as well. And, to top it all off, each book is laden with gorgeous illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith. The drawings, which are done in a style that looks like pen & ink scratchings, are equal parts pretty and creepy.
The Last Apprentice was one of my favorite series, and they were a complete joy to read from Book 1 all the way through Book 8. I took a break from them, after that, only to find that when I was ready to go back, three more books had been published! I was thrilled! But that excitement was short-lived. Book 9 left me sorely disappointed. Did I change? Did the books change? I don’t know!
All I know is that Grimalkin, the Witch Assassin left me cold. I assumed it was because the POV was different; Book 9 was told from the perspective of the eponymous assassin — not Tom, as was the case with all of the previous books in the series. So, when I finished Book 10, Lure of the Dead, which reverted to Tom’s POV, I was surprised to find that I was just as disappointed. It wasn’t just a fluke. Something really is different.
So what gives?
With this one, my biggest complaint is that everything happened too fast! Far too fast! Characters were dispatched of in mere sentences! The threat from the Darkness in Lure of the Dead was from vampires, but Delaney’s prose was more modern zombie than modern vampire. Nothing sparkled, that’s for sure. It was just dead. Dead and fast.
You know what I really want? Some more Tom & Alice interaction. Maybe her character is what made the books special for me? If so, I’m in luck because an upcoming book (Book 12, published this past September) is called I Am Alice. I guess I’ll find out! I do plan to keep reading, if only because I’ve come this far.
I hope my love for the series can be rekindled. And, to qualify my wish (because I read far too much to not be aware of the “be careful what you wish for” admonishment), I hope Delaney is able to breathe a lot more emotion, and heart, and wit back into his writing before that love manifests itself again. Otherwise, things could get weird…
I don’t think the world’s quite ready for Pooka on Zombie love.
Pooka Rating: 2.75 out of 5 Nibbles