This book takes a bit of a turn (an interesting one). We finally get more than a peak at the Spook’s life before Tom’s arrival and it is this past that helps move the story.
As the days get colder, it approaches time to move to the Spook’s winter home in Anglezarke. Tom doesn’t really want to go. He is comfortable in Chippenden, it’s warmer there, Anglezarke is more overrun by the dark, and Alice will be leaving them. A letter from Morgan, one of the Spook’s old apprentices prompts an earlier departure than expected. Once in Anglezarke, things get moving quickly. Meg (a witch and the Spook’s love) lives in the house but she is kept drugged to keep her memory from returning. There is dangerous stone-chucker boggart on the loose, and that is the least of their worries. There is something Morgan wants from the Spook and he will stop at nothing to get it.
Definitely driving this book is the Spook’s back story and, to a lesser degree, Tom’s family drama. The Spook, it turns out, is a much more complex character than he first appears. And he isn’t nearly as harsh and uncaring as he seems to want to appear either. This book employs the typical mentor not telling his mentee everything he needs to know device (though at least in this case it is because it is too personal, not because he thinks Tom “isn’t ready”), which is always frustrating because of the number of issues that could be prevented had he simply told him everything.
The strangest thing about the book is that we know Tom has six brothers, but because we never actually see anyone but his oldest brother Jack, it is hard to really imagine him having other brothers. Do we even get their names? It would be interesting to see Tom and Jack’s relationship develop beyond Jack being uncomfortable with him as a Spook. I’m also hoping we see Tom’s mother again, and I imagine we will eventually, but I am more curious to see what is in her room and learn more about her.
Alice and Tom’s relationship remains the most intriguing aspect of the book in many ways, but in this book Tom seemed to look at her as though they had something more than friendship between them. While I don’t doubt that sometime in the future this may be the case (even if only for a little while), it seemed a little early for it.
My one issue with the book is the Spook’s resolution for Meg seems more like he just fostered a dangerous issue on someone else who is unsuspecting of it.