Review: Kill the Farm Boy
Take every fantasy trope, every dungeon crawl, every fairytale stereotype and put them in a bag, smash the bag with a hammer, then dump out the pieces and you get KILL THE FARM BOY. It’s a romp of a book, with clever turns of phrase, goofy characters, a quest they don’t realize they’re on, all while poking fun at every fantasy book you’ve ever read. Terry Pratchett would be proud.
It all starts with Worstly, the young farmboy who’s visited by the pixie Staph and told that he’s the Chosen One. Of course he doesn’t believe her, so she proves her magical creds by turning to the closest farmyard animal–in this case a goat–and giving it the power of speech. Finally convinced, Worstly leaves the farm with Gustave (the talking goat) in tow to find his destiny, and to save Gustave from becoming dinner. Unfortunately for Worstly, Dark Lord Toby has learned of his existence and sends his minion to dispose of the boy and bring him the lad’s heart–because everyone knows that the hearts of Chosen Ones makes a great ingredient for nefarious and dark spells.
In the meantime, Fia, the tall, strong woman clad in her chainmail bikini, is planning to scale the thorns surrounding the sleeping princess’ castle. But her quest isn’t what you think. No, she wants a clipping of the heart rose from where the thorns originate so she can enter it in a rose and garden show. Then she can win the prize money and move to the countryside where she can live in peace in a rose garden of her own making. She’s tired of people always assuming she’s ready for a fight. Alas, she has an unfortunate run-in with Worstly and Gustave.
The resulting story is a twisty plot that takes you through giant-infested mountains, a cave vampire, a witch who rules the southern beach (a…sand witch), dwarven inns, a bard who’d rather be an accountant, irrational fears of chickens, and so much more that if I told you everything it would be spoiled and you wouldn’t believe me anyway. Just know that NO character is safe mwahahahaha.
If you’ve read any Kevin Hearne (I haven’t read any Delilah S. Dawson but I love Hearne’s Iron Druid books), then you’re familiar with his punny pop-culture references. In KILL THE FARM BOY it’s Hearne humor on steroids where it seems like he’s taken hold of every fantasy stereotype and with a giggle manipulated it like silly putty into a twisted semblance. And nothing is sacred. For example, remember my May review on SEVENTH DECIMATE by Stephen Donaldson, and how I mentioned his use of arcane language? He likes to use the word ‘demesne’ and lo-and-behold in KILL THE FARM BOY someone uses that word and another character says (and I paraphrase), “No you’re pronouncing it wrong. It’s ‘domain.'” HAH take that Donaldson.
It isn’t perfect (and, really, what humor book appeals to everybody?), but it’s simply fun to read. It’s something your teenagers can read safely, although unless they read a lot of fantasy they won’t catch all the references. It does get a little long and by the last 100 pages I was ready for it to wrap up, and there are were a few unanswered questions at the end where plotlines petered out. Still, the end is completely ridiculous and oh so satisfying.
- Recommended Age: 13+ although I'm wondering how much less well-read youths will understand
- Language: Almost none
- Violence: A bloodthirsty sword and plenty of unusual deaths
- Sex: Vague references including an F/F relationship; lots of innuendo that most kids won't even notice
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