Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne takes a popular epic story setup and flips it over, expands it, and pokes it with a stick a few times for good measure. A farm boy sets off to find his destiny after a visit from a pixie named Staph. But in the kingdom of Pell that’s even more dangerous than it may seem. It’s fantasy and fairy tale with smatterings of dark, graphic violence and social commentary. And yet the writing rarely feels too heavy.
That’s in part due to a matter-of-fact narrative style as well as off-the-wall, absurdist, and pun-filled humor. How funny you find it will depend on your sense of humor and your knowledge of storytelling tropes. Personally I found it clever and amusing but never quite laugh out loud. Although I was greatly entertained the first several times the detailed food descriptions jumped into the foodie deep end.
The cast of characters is definitely one of the book’s best features. A diverse band of misfits assembles and journeys on a quest that brings them all on board for a variety of reasons. The complex crew includes a vegetarian Amazonian-esque woman, a crepuscular dark lord with particular food powers, a rogue who somehow defies the odds stacked against her, a talking goat, and a half-rabbit female bard to name a few. Dawson and Hearne have made them all complex and somehow simultaneously endearing and somewhat annoying.
You wouldn’t know this was co-authored with how seamless the voice of it is overall. And the pacing seems fine until the major goal point is reached. Then it all goes over very very quickly only to be followed by a very long denouement. In this kind of storytelling it’s hard to tell if that’s a meta commentary from the authors or a gloss-over in the process.
Overall, Kill the Farm Boy is a nice change of pace for your fantasy reading list. It’s not quite Princess Bride territory but it’s hanging out on a less child-friendly path nearby. Underneath its silliness is clearly two authors deeply familiar with and unafraid to push the envelope. I can’t say I loved it but I’m glad it’s out there.
The publisher provided FANgirl with a copy of the book for review. As usual opinions are my own.
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