Title: The Devil’s Apprentice
Author: Kenneth B. Andersen
Release Date: October 8 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Goodreads Rating: 4.11 (of 1,858 ratings)
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Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil. Philip gets both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?
Disclaimer: I received this e-book courtesy of The Write Reads (blogging community). I am grateful for the opportunity to review a book for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
An easy read filled with vivid world-building and a clean-cut, like-able protagonist, The Devil’s Apprentice suffered only from a confused target audience.
Hello one and all, this is my first blog tour in who knows how long? I hesitated hard when Dave from @TheWriteReads (twitter) asked me to participate, but his blogger gang has brought me nothing but positivity and friendship so I decided to tackle this Danish-to-English book for better or worse.
First thoughts: the writing is simple and straight-forwards, characteristic of middle-grade novels. How much this can be attributed to the translator vs author Andersen himself I don’t know. The writing style makes this book easily readable. I zipped through The Devil’s Apprentice in one sitting. Not only is the writing clear, but the action follows logically. I was enticed by what was happening at all times (while I will say characters were relatively simple in their desires. No one is too complex, another more middle-grade novel trait).
I have never personally read a middle grade horror novel (exempting Goosebumps, and that was so long ago my memory is murky). My co-blogger Mandy has, and her most common dislike is along the lines of “it can be spooky, but never truly scary.” Therein lies the question. How frightening is a middle book allowed to be before it’s not really appropriate?
Lucifax sighed. “He flayed me alive.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Terribly, but don’t you worry about it. My fur will grow back tonight.” (…)
“He… he won’t flay me flay me alive, too, will he?” Philip asked nervously.
“Of course not,” Lucifax replied, before adding after a short pause: “But you never know.”
— Exchange between Lucifax, Lucifer’s cat, and Philip, the protagonist
Andersen includes animal torture, attempted murder, human torture, flaying, whipping, and more in his book. Scenes are not gruesome but they are descriptive. These moments pull me away from comfortably calling this book “middle-grade,” despite the cheerful demons and uncle-type Devil.
The Devil’s Apprentice ends with sweet morals on kindness and being good, with a hat tip to the relevance of evil. So what do I call this book that places a young boy in the depths of hell? I’m not quite sure. Execution-wise, it’s nearly flawless, but a confused target audience can well be its undoing.
rating: Elsa. I’m lost on how I feel about this book. It has all the technical aspects down. Characterization clean to a T. But who would I recommend it to? How comfortable do I feel reading about a cat who exists to be tortured by its master? Andersen wrote his subject well, and it’s Hell, it’s not going to be pretty, but heck, I really don’t know what to do with this one.
content warnings: animal torture, human torture, discussion of suicide, attempted murder, I mean literal Hell, dismemberment, flaying, whipping, enslavement, bullying
read this if you: have a dark sense of humour
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!