|Scrawls in the Dust - John Booth||
***** (5 Stars) And well deserving
The thirteenth book of the Spook’s series finally concludes the first story. The author says he planned a trilogy, but it took on a life of its own.
The trouble with endings of long stories is they rarely live up to the hype. This is a good book, it is one scene short of being a great book, but I understand why that scene was omitted, even if I don’t agree with the reasoning. I would bet money it was in the first draft before the editor persuaded the author to remove it.
The Wardstone Chronicles started by presenting us with an uncompromisingly description of good and evil, if you used magic )always Dark you would eventually become a servant of the Dark and it was a Spook’s job to take those so afflicted and imprison or kill them (sometimes both, though not in that order.) But Delaney subverted that view almost from the start by showing that not all those using dark powers used them for evil. Everybody is compromised as the story progresses, even the Spook turns out to have fallen in love with one of those he fights against.
Delaney created a relationship between a practitioner of the dark arts (Alice) and Tom (our hero). This relationship soon blossoms into the beginnings of a love story. The age range the book is targeted at preventing it from going any further.
What has bound me to these stories is that relationship between Tom and Alice, its strengths and its weaknesses, as our characters discover that for the world to escape the rule of evil, Tom must sacrifice Alice and she must be willing to die. Tom is hopelessly fallible (and to be honest, not all that bright) while Alice has a resolve that burns so intensely it sometimes hurts to see it on the page.
I’m not going to say what happens in this book, but that story is not resolved unless you carefully put together all the clues the author left scattered around. For those of you who have read the book, look carefully at the prophesy made by Mab about what would happen to Tom and then Alice’s last words to him.
Buy this book, it’s well worth reading.