Yes, another re-read. I started this series based off a recommendation made to me by my roommate. I loved the first book and continued on with the series until Attack of the Fiend. My roommates favorite character was Tom, but the reason I continued on with the series is Alice and Old Gregory. Tom is your typical male protagonist, everything just works out for him, he's really quite boring. Alice and Old Gregory, however, are much more interesting.
Alice has been raised by malevolent witches; she's surrounded by people who either despise her or are afraid of her. She 'saves' Tom and requests in return that Tom do one favor for her. Tom does the typical protagonist thing and agrees to this without question or setting any limits. This works out just as you'd expect it to. But, what I like about Alice so much is that knowing that Tom is apprenticed to the Spook, knowing what will most likely be her fate when it gets back to the Spook what she did, she still saves Tom.
Which leads me into the reason that I like Old Gregory so much; he doesn't take the easy way out. There are only two ways to stop a witch for good:
“The first is to burn her. But nobody should have to suffer pain like
that. The other way is too horrible even to think about.
It’s a method few have heard about because it was
practiced long ago, in a land far away over the sea.
According to their ancient books, if you eat the heart of
a witch, she can never return. And you have to eat it
“If we practice either method, we’re no better than the
witch we kill,” said the Spook. “Both are barbaric. The
only alternative left is the pit. That’s cruel as well, but
we do it to protect the innocents ..."
I probably shouldn't like him so much for doing what any decent human would do, but I do. Old Gregory spends a lot of time and effort to keep the witches he's captured contained, so he won't have to subject them to such a horrible death. I also liked how he left Alice's fate up to Tom. Instead of telling him how to handle her, he let Tom decide what kind of person he was going to be.
I will say though that the ending was a little too neatly wrapped up. The ending meant that neither Tom, Alice or Old Gregory had to put any thought into what to do with Mother Malkin now that she has become much more powerful.