Series: The Last Apprentice,
Also in this series: Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane
Published by Greenwillow Books on 28 August 2007
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Epic Fantasy, Friendship, Ghosts & the Undead, Magic, Middle Grade, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
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Also by this author: Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane
Place(s) Traveled To: Chipenden // Anglezarke // Adlington // Blackrod
First line(s): It was a cold, dark November night, and Alice and I were sitting by the kitchen fire with my master, the Spook.
I had high hopes for Night of the Soul Stealer after reading the previous installment in the series, Curse of the Bane (my review) and was filled with action and suspense. Sadly though, Night of the Soul Stealer, did not live up to my expectations and felt more like a second novel while Curse of the Bane felt like it should have been later in the series. Night of the Soul Stealer sees Tom, Alice and the Spook retiring to the Spook’s winter house in Anglezarke. Which is a cold and desolate place and also where the Spook keeps Meg, a witch and also his love. Theirs is a complex relationship and one that made me really uncomfortable since the Spook keeps Meg drugged and when he’s not in Anglezarke he keeps her in an induced sleep until he returns. That is just no ok on so many levels and it really squicked me out.
Meg may be a witch but the Spook has ways of dealing with witches and he should have used one of those methods. So I couldn’t feel too bad for the Spook when certain events happened as they did. I also got frustrated with Tom, a lot. There where times when he was crazy and over the top smart and then there were many other moments when he just seemed to be deliberately obtuse. This makes for a frustrating read since he never seems to learn from his mistakes. Granted, Night of the Soul Stealer, is set only a few months after the series starts but still when you make the same mistakes over and over you should start to learn from them.
Plot wise, Night of the Soul Stealer, was well paced and it was a fairly quick and easy read. The mystery wasn’t a huge mystery and the suspense really wasn’t as great as that in the previous book but overall it wasn’t a bad story. I like Alice and how her character continues to develop as she struggles with being a witch and all that it entails. I like her friendship with Tom and think that they could work well together if only the Spook didn’t keep getting in the way. The Spook is sometimes his own worst enemy and he does himself and Tom no favors by letting his prejudices get in the way. Especially when the Spook is a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to his actions.
As I said above, the things with Meg really bothered me and as a result I’ve stalled in this series. I’m not sure if I want to continue as there are just things about the Spook that I do not like. He tries to come across as morally above everyone else but what he thinks is right isn’t always the case. I’m also not entirely sure if Tom will ever grow up and change. While I expect to suspend a certain level of belief when it comes to a fantasy novel this series just has moments that it can be hard to wrap my head around. Tom can’t be both a wunderkind as well as a clumsy apprentice. He can’t always be the one to save the day while his mentor is incapacitated in some way. Its a formula that has seen itself play out over the course of three books. While it happening once, I can believe it as a fluke or beginners luck or something but not in every book. It just strains belief too much. So I think I’m going to put this series on hold for a bit and reevaluate at a later date.