“It was only when Shona, in sheer fury, turned the carnivorous sheep among them that they moved. They ran, some of them with charming little white sheep attached to their legs or backsides and the rest shouting about monsters.”
― Diana Wynne Jones,
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite children’s author. Some of you may know her by her most popular children’s fantasy novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. (Which was later turned into a Studio Ghibli film by the same name. I highly recommend both the movie and the book if you haven’t already partaken. Both are amazing in their own ways.)
Jones continues to use her powers of phenomenal fantasy writing in Dark Lord of Derkholm. The title and the cover may seem daunting, but do not shy away, because it holds all the wonders of lovely fantasy elements such as magic and mythical creatures. There is no shortage of humor, either.
Derk has been chosen to play the Dark Lord for the hordes of tourist, known as the Pilgrim Parties, who enter his world to play make-believe. Every year someone is chosen, and the whole magical world is forced to become an amusement park for humans coming through a portal. The person holding Derk’s world hostage, Mr. Chesney, is nothing more than a business man with a demon in his pocket. But never the less, the citizens are forced the participate by fear.
Derk, an outlier in the community for his creative creatures, feels the pressure of the position, as well as the pressure from his family. When an old Dragon arrives at his doorstep, Derk is thrown out of commission, leaving the pressure of the tours on the shoulders of his children. Will they be able to stage raids, bird attacks, demons, and please Mr. Chesney in time?
If you love, or love the idea of, Dungeons and Dragons, then this is an awesome read for you. It has the perfect amount of fantasy and humor to reveal things from a reversed side of campaigning. And if you’re not into D&D, the book still retains all of its charm.