Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney

Title: Curse of the Bane (The Last Apprentice Series)
Author: Joseph Delaney
Country: US/UK (in UK it is published under the Wardstone Series) (2007)
Pages: 496
Genre: Young Adult - Fantasy
Challenges: YA Challenge
Grade - ****

I'm not usually someone who falls in love with a series.  I generally enjoy reading a book and having a conclusion in sight rather than anticipating a hidden ending.  The Last Apprentice series, however, caught me hook, line, and sinker.  I mean, seriously, check out the deliciously dark cover of the second book!

The series revolves around Thomas Ward who is a seventh son of a seventh son. This unique trait puts him in the hands of John Gregory, the present day Spook that Tom's Mam wants him to study under.  A spook is a very scary, lonely job, for a spook must travel through out the county trapping bogarts, witches, and in book #2, the most evil entity of them all - the bane!  

Although this book is described as young adult, it is not for the weak or faint.  Delaney goes in detail with imaginative gore and ghoulish tales.  For example, in book #1, we find out that Old Gregory's previous apprentice lost his life trapping a bogart - while sealing the crypt, the bogart latched on and sucked the blood out of the poor young man's hand until death.  

In Curse of the Bane, Thomas and Old Gregory find themselves in Priestown to attend Old Gregory's brother's funeral and deal with unfinished business.  While there the Quisitor (a very horrid man who accuses men and women to be witches and warlocks) has captured a group of villagers, including Alice - Tom's dear friend who happens to be a real witch.  The Quisitor anticipates holding a quick trial where he is the judge and the punishment is burning at the stake.  The burning forces the villagers to call out to God therefore cleansing their soul.  Tom wants to help and in fact has to once his master, Gregory, becomes a victim as well.  

Evilness lurks through out this novel and even though it is a bit "lengthy" for some suspicious young readers, the font is large enough that the pages don't seem to be intimidating.  There's mischief and suspense as well as hope and friendship.  Curse of the Bane left me looking forward to picking up the third in the series.   

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