Book Review: The Wardstone Chronicles Series by Joseph Delaney

The Wardstone Chronicles are also known as “The Last Apprentice” series in the US. So far, it’s the closest thing to gothic horror that I’ve ever seen in a fantasy series, and centers around protagonists called “Spooks” who battle the dark – malevolent witches, corrupted priesthoods, ghosts, and the Devil himself! It’s got all the classic horror elements like gargoyles, Medusa like apparitions, demons, and possession.

Book Review of the Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delany

And for the first time, a fantasy series had me…well…spooked!

It’s beautifully done and being the simple character that I am, I appreciate directness and plain storytelling. I’m not a fan of literary aesthetics and the first person point of view in which the series is written facilitates a tight storyline that never gets out of control – much like the Dresden Files.

The thirteen books that make up the series are relatively short, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Each is a self contained work that ties up all immediate loose ends, though around the third book hints of a much larger story arc begin to reveal themselves. So often there is a primary plot, with the background events steadily being pushed along.

And my god, does the series end with a stunner. I mean, talk about breaking your heart. I haven’t felt this way for a long time. When Martin killed his characters left right and center, I felt cheated. What Joseph Delany does is something else entirely. He doesn’t have to kill you – he just makes you sob with sorrow.

And shiver with fear.

***Minor Spoiler***

The first book had me hugging my blanket tight at night – and I loved every damn minute of it! There are some weird choices the protagonist makes throughout the book that really piss me off. For example, he has this ability to slow time that’s hardly ever¬†used – but one which can totally solve all his problems for him. With that ability, he can destroy an entire army by himself without breaking a sweat.

I think Delany slipped up a bit there. He gave the hero¬†too much of something, and had to compensate that with stupidity. Tom isn’t a very bright guy.

***End of Spoiler***

In fact Tom Ward is the everyday man, despite this grand destiny that’s supposed to hang over him. He’s not very courageous, is rather idiotic pretty much all the time, and has a passion for holding back the truth even though time and again it’s shown that honesty with his master is really the best policy.

These flaws are irritating, but they by no means overwhelm the larger context of the book. There are lots of great characters well beyond Tom Ward himself – notably the witch assassin Grimalkin. Oh she’s so cool! And I’ve passed this series onto my wife to read as well.

I just know she’ll love it :)

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