Kill the Farm Boy by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson : Review

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

 

Kill the Farm Boy has been a long-awaited pleasure for me. At a book signing I attended last October, Kevin Hearne announced his upcoming publication with an eye fraught with mischief, and I could not wait to see what in the world he created (in collaboration with Delilah S. Dawson) that inspired such giddiness.

If you should happen upon this book in a bookstore, pull it off the shelf. Enjoy the delightfully ironic cover. Flip inside, and take a generous look at the map. Have yourself a giggle. Turn the page. Read all of the chapter titles, aloud if you fancy, and chuckle some more. Then perhaps you will tuck the book under your arm, and purchase this cheeky, silly gem for your own.

If you should do such a thing, you are to enjoy a work saturated in satire and dripping in indulgence. The book serves us relentless bawdiness, puns (god help you if you don’t like puns), deadpan, nonsensical, vulgarity, parody, etc. with every page. Every page. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Family Guy, you have experienced similar exhaustive humor. There is a sense that if there was a hole, a joke sweetly slid in for a perfect, pleasing fit. So, no hole unfilled, no opportunity unmet. I can almost see a paperboy on a street corner handing out this book, shouting, “Dick jokes! Get your dick jokes here! Dick jokes!” And, if you are the studious sort of fella who is familiar with classic literature, there’s some bacon for you in here too. So, although this book sports an immense package of cracks, and yes some are very low-hanging fruit, you will find an aura of sophistication and cleverness.

The book is pieced together with care, and meets the standard of competent story-telling. It is wild, and stupid, and cheesy, and silly, yet coherent and thoughtful. Although the book is a generous satire of the fantasy genre, it utilizes the very tropes it parodies to give us a familiar and satisfying story. It is both a raunchy roast and a tender love-letter to our dearest friend.

You’ll find the characters deliciously ironic, while still unique, distinct, and fresh. While the book is third person, each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character in the party. We become well acquainted with their history, desires, fears, and wonders. Much to our pleasure, we will see their development and growth, for (hooray!) their mad adventure affects and changes them. They could have easily been paper caricatures and merely walking jokes (actually, there is one. A single one, purposely made so), but to our delight, we actually get characters of substance.

I cannot write about this book without noting its LGBT representation. This book boldly and unabashedly gives us a gay couple. No subtlety. No allusions. No subtext. You get to read a book with a gay fantasy romance, without a single mention of such a thing being abnormal. I write this with a hope that such dauntless representation in the future become so common as to not be this notable. For now, I must emphatically extend my thanks to Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne for blazing this particular trail.

So, if I were to recommend this book in short, I would say, “It has gay stuff and dick jokes! Read it!”

 

I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review.

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