I can't remember where I happened upon this book. It might have been a recommendation from Amazon when I was looking at something else, but it looked good, sort of Harry Potter genre-ish and I thought I'd give it a try.
As a children's book, it's fantastic. I would have loved this book when I was a child. So much so that I would have had to have the next subito and not whenever. It's the kind of series I would have owned the whole of and read and re-read. I'm not the best judge of age ranges, but I would think somewhere between 10-12 year olds would be the target audience, considering the book is about a 13 year old farm boy who is apprenticed off to a Spook to learn his trade.
Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son and was born to a mysterious mother. She seems to be magical, but nothing is ever said outright. Tom does not necessarily want to become a Spook because of the many downsides to the job. Spooks are men who travel the country helping people get rid of demons, evil witches, boggarts, ghosts, ghasts and all things that go bump in the night. Because of the nature of the work, few people are disposed to speak to Spooks unless the need something from them, so the life is a lonely and hard one. Tom, who grew up in a large family who loved him, is uncertain that he will be able to deal with this life and it isn't long before he decides it's not for him. Unfortunately for Tom, we don't always get what we want in life. His genealogy has decided his fate for him and he must continue whether he wants to or not.
The tale is a good one. Already in the first leg of his journey, Tom learns much. Not only must he study hard, but he must learn on his feet, and quickly too, if he wants to avoid total disaster striking. When a Spook's job goes wrong, it's others who suffer the consequences. Tom learns this rather quickly after choosing to ignore warnings the Spook had given him about the witch trapped in a hold in the garden. Because of Tom, the witch gets free just when the Spook is gone and he has only himself to rely on to save the situation from getting worse.
The book is well written, the story action packed, the characters engaging and the rest of the series promises to be interesting. I plan on finishing it as soon as I can get a hold of the books. All in all, 5 stars if you're under the age of 15 and 4.5 if you're older, but only because it really is a children's book.