Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Can the Wardstone protect you?

Having had the lighthearted fun of a birthday celebration Armadillo reviewer Simon Barrett now brings you some dark horror, a theme that must appeal to him for he is currently deep into Lindsey's Barraclough's Long Lankin (brilliantly reviewed by Louise Stothard ina recent edition of Armadillo Magazine) and declared it was most certainly not a book to be read after dark, but before we get too immersed in that let us delve into the phenomenon that is:

The Wardstone Chronicles
Joseph Delaney’s seminal series The Wardstone Chronicles which began with The Spook’s Apprentice was always intended to take up a lot of bookshelf space. It is a credit to the strength of the story and the empathy between readers and characters that the Bodley Head has just published the eighth book, The Spook’s Destiny.

Tom, the Spook’s Apprentice, has certainly grown-up since the first book and has travelled far beyond the boundaries of his home, the County. Whilst the dark has at times seemed invincible, Tom, his family and his friends have always shown the courage to win through.

As a Religious Education teacher with an interest in philosophy, the Wardstone Chronicles provokes two enduring questions for me. Is the universe a dualism of two separate, distinct entities: light and dark? Can the means justify the ends?

The Wardstone Chronicles began with the opposing forces of light and dark. This is perhaps typified by the character of the Spook himself, shunning all compromise with the dark and those who would use the dark. The universe however has become far more complicated. Tom’s best friend Alice was unwillingly trained as a witch, but willingly uses magic, sometimes for dark purposes. Even Tom’s mother is a reformed creature of the dark. More compelling in the series is Tom’s own nature, in which a sliver of darkness now exists deep in his being. In the latest book, Joseph Delaney hints that there is more to the universe than light and dark. Tom meets the Old God Pan who intriguingly refers to a shadow world, separate from the dark.

Can the dark be used to fight the dark? This question has come to dominate the books with the servants of the dark co-operating in the fight against the dark. This fight is epitomised for me in the character of Grimalkin, the Witch Assassin who has saved Tom in the past, and fights alongside him to try and bind the Devil in The Spook’s Destiny. The Spook is of the mind that the means must justify the ends and only light should be used to destroy the dark. Tom and Alice challenge this, and the world might have ended before now, if they hadn’t. I am eagerly awaiting Joseph Delaney’s next story, one that promises to reveal much more about Grimalkin....

Only to be read after dark if you dare ...

No comments:

Post a comment