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Night of the Soul Stealer: The Last Apprentice #3    by Joseph Delaney order for
Night of the Soul Stealer
by Joseph Delaney
Order:  USA  Can
Greenwillow, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The Night of the Soul Stealer is the third installment of Joseph Delaney's Last Apprentice series. However, it also works as a standalone read. This delightful book includes lamia witches, ley lines, boggarts, stone chuckers, hall knockers and rippers. The Spook is the one called upon by community residents to rid their surroundings of such beings.

One evening Master Spook (John Gregory) receives a mysterious message which prompts him to make immediate plans for Apprentice Tom Ward and witch Alice (whom the Spook has rehabilitated) to leave the summer home at Chipenden and travel to the winter house on the moors in Anglezarke. To Tom's disappointment and Alice's dismay, she is to be left with the nearby Hurst family.

Arriving in Anglezarke, Tom is introduced to lamia witch Meg Skelton, loved by the Spook. He provides Meg with a daily concoction in tea to keep her from remembering who she is. Meg is also kept asleep in a cell when the Spook is away, and revived by the Master upon his arrival at the winter house. In the cellar is an area with deep pits and indestructible iron gates to prevent other lamia witches from escaping to create havoc within the community. One imprisoned feral lamia witch is Meg's sister.

The Hurst family have a son named Morgan who was apprenticed to the Spook some time back. He failed and turned into a vengeful necromancer with the ability to conjure the dead. Morgan's sister killed herself at the age of seven by drowning and he has prevented her from crossing into the light. Morgan aims to retrieve something his ex-Master Spook has kept from him - a grimoire, book of spells. Morgan is bent on becoming powerful by summoning the ancient god Golgoth, the devastating Winter God.

Master Spook is summoned to destroy a boggart who lives under the roots of a tree and is severely injured. Though Tom has been warned to stay away from Morgan, circumstances draw Tom to the necromancer, who offers apprenticeship into the powers of the dark side.

These well-crafted Last Apprentice books are not typical tales of ghosts and goblins, but something darker - making for a solid, delicious read and a series to get hooked into. Patrick Arrasmith's scratchboard illustrations are also beyond the norm. I enjoyed every morsel of Night of the Soul Stealer.

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