Warning: my long and boring rants follow. There are some things that bug me and this review happened to be a good place for them. Sorry.
If you own a farm you never split it between your children, otherwise several generations later there will be nothing left to split. You give the farm to the oldest child which leaves you a very tough problem to find a place in life for the rest of your kids. Now imagine you have seven sons - and you yourself were the seventh son, but managed to come up with some money to buy a farm. This was exactly the problem the father of young Tom Ward was facing. Tom was the last son and as such his father was at loss at what to do with him.
Fortunately being a seventh son of a seventh son made a good Spook material out of Tom, so the local Spook took his as an apprentice. Spook's job is to deal with all kind of supernatural troublemakers: ghosts, ghasts, bogarts, evil witches, and such. Spooks do not possess any magic; they do their job using only their wits, brains, and experience. The whole nature of the work makes them, well, spooky and as such they do not have any friends and people while being glad to be rid of supernatural troubles, make their best to avoid Spooks in everyday life. This is the life which awaits Tom is he manages to be good enough to enter the full apprenticeship.
This is a young adult horror novel. I would not say it is very scary, but it does have quite a few really spooky (sorry, I seems to overuse the word) moments. Thus the rant moment came. It seems to me the US writers and publishers are busy writing and publishing angst romance novel calling them young adult (YA) literature to the point where it is impossible to find any non-romance centered YA book. I have nothing against angst-ridden romances and they have their place in literature, but I really do not understand why this is considered to be the only type of YA genre.
At the same time British writers still remember the distinction between YA and romance. For the good example of YA without too much romance look no further than Harry Potter. This series is another example of this. This is a fairly short, fast and easy read with some horror elements. I was not completely satisfied with some characters as they seem to be two-dimensional, but this is the first book of the series, so there is still hope for them.
My rating would be something between 3.5 stars and 4, but I will round it up and reserve my right to change it after I read other books of the series - and I will most definitely continue reading them.
Another rant is coming. Why oh why do US publishers consider changing the titles of the books published in GB to be their first and foremost duty? We were lucky with Harry Potter as only the first book suffered this fate, but in case of this series I think all the titles were butchered. UK title: The Spook's Apprentice. US title: Revenge of the Witch. What was so exotic and hard to understand about the UK - original - title so it had to be changed? Does US publishing industry consider its readers to be complete retards unable to understand some local UK terms? I think they do add flavor and color to the tale. Luckily it is possible for Canadians to find books published in UK in local bookstores and this is what I will do for this series. Rant off.
For a good example of US YA horror take a look at Nightfall Gardens trilogy by Allen Houston.