Kenneth B. Andersen is a full-time writer of MG/YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror including THE GREAT DEVIL WAR series and THE ANTBOY series. Since his debut in 2000 Kenneth has published more than forty books and he is one of the most popular and praised YA writers in Denmark. His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and his hit series about the superhero Antboy has been turned into three movies. A musical version of THE DEVIL'S APPRENTICE opened in the fall 2018. Kenneth has received numerous awards for his work, including the Karen Blixen Award, the BMF Award, the ORLA Award (three times), and he has been on the Danish Ministry Culture's Honor List (twice). Kenneth lives in Copenhagen with his wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.
“Andersen’s exceptional plotting ensures that its sequel will be irresistible. An enjoyably disturbing supernatural tale.”
– Kirkus Reviews
This third volume of a YA series sees a boy’s mortal friend trapped in hell.
Eighth grader Philip Engel once trained to replace Lucifer as ruler of hell. Now, after succeeding in an adventure that extended his mother’s life, he’s begun to focus more on his mortal circle and less on his periodic trips to the dangerous underworld. His friendship with Sabrina, a classmate crush, is blossoming. One day, they paint props together for a school play. When she spills paint all over herself, Philip fails to connect her unnatural clumsiness to the antics of Satina, his tempter friend from hell, who is jealous. Later, as school ends, he feels an intense pain. He discovers that Sam, a former bully and current friend, took a “summoning pill” from his belongings, mistaking it for a pain reliever. Sam has been transported to hell, and Philip has no choice but to take the second of two pills and follow him. Once there, Philip reunites with Satina and her father, Blackhorn. He learns that Sam’s mortal transgressions might place him at any number of punishment venues. More alarmingly, someone altered Sam’s Soul Book. And he and Philip are no longer friends, but enemies once again. In this latest volume of this dark and clever series, Andersen’s hero acknowledges that hell “is repetition.” Nevertheless, the author’s eerie atmospherics prove a continuous wonder, as in the description of “ink-black trees with thorns as long and sharp as daggers.” The adventure, translated from the Danish by Todd, also opens up in ways only teased previously, as when Philip visits paradise and meets Jehovah. Humor remains vital to the narrative, as when God warns Philip about using a chair Jesus built: “Miracles, he can manage those, but carpentry was never his strong point.” Philip’s budding romance with Satina and the possibility of meeting his father, Victor, expand the hero’s arc. The notion that Aziel, Philip’s nemesis, is building an army of those who want revenge on Lucifer—who made everyone in hell mortal—raises the stakes and will have fans clamoring for the next volume.
A hero breaks the mold in this inventive and energetic series installment.
Pub Date: March 19, 2020
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online: April 2, 2020
This fourth volume of a YA fantasy series pits Lucifer’s sinister minions against the forces of the ruler of Enoch.
Thirteen-year-old Philip Engel dreams of simpler times. He longs to be helping his mother with dinner at home and preparing for a play with his crush, Sabrina, at school. Instead, he’s in hell, asleep in Lucifer’s castle. He knows that his friend Satina has been kidnapped by Aziel, upstart ruler of Enoch, or New Hell. Philip already saw his demonic friend Grumblebeard die and has no wish to lose the young tempter whom he loves. As a tempter himself, he now has horns, wings, and a tail—as well as the power to change his face. He dons the identity of Malthorn Dargue and infiltrates Enoch. Philip learns that Aziel keeps Satina in his temple, held under a spell of forgetfulness by the waters of the river Lethe. Aziel himself, bitten by Death’s snake, has aged “several hundred years” but eats green apples to gradually reverse the process. But worst of all is that Aziel has teamed up with Cain, brother of the biblical Abel and the world’s first murderer. The two diabolical figures, along with an army of mortal demons, plan their vengeance on Lucifer for taking their immortality. Andersen, in his series’ most epic installment, brings the drama to a rolling boil. The volume also contains his grisliest scenes yet, including one in which an innocent man who has no eyelids begs Philip for death. This effectively reminds readers that Lucifer is the lesser of two evils, and Aziel is a threat the evolving hero may or may not vanquish. The author still peppers his saga with puns, like the “Hornmones” taken by Hisser, a young devil hoping to grow larger horns. A flashback to the final argument between Lucifer and the Archangel Michael rings with grandeur (“The snow-white wings unfold, sparkling like sword-blades in the sunshine”). While some may find the violence gratuitous, Andersen does enjoy pushing boundaries—as when God tells Philip the meaning of life. Fans will undoubtedly expect some big surprises in the next volume.
A bracing drama that feels like a milestone for this series about a demonic war.
Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Page count: 321pp
Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020
In Andersen’s YA fantasy series opener, translated from the Danish by Semmel, a teenager enters hell and unwillingly trains to become its ruler.
As the story opens, 13-year-old Philip Engel is hiding in his school’s basement because Sam, an older, inventively cruel bully, has dubbed him his “Condemned of the Week.” Thankfully, the school’s janitor intervenes before Sam can harm him. Later, on his way home, Philip rescues a black cat stuck in a tree: “Thanks for helping me out,” the cat says, to Philip’s amazement. Then Sam catches up with his victim and pushes him into a crosswalk—and in front of a car. Soon, Philip wakes up in hell, where he reunites with the talking cat, whose name is Lucifax, and heads for a castle made of bones—the lair of the devil himself. The teen learns that the devil is dying and needs to train a replacement; however, it turns out that Lucifer intended to summon Sam, not Philip. A one-time deal with Death allowed the devil to take just one boy before his time, so he must make do with Philip, who’s literally a Boy Scout. How will Philip fare when his villainy is tested? And is a young “she-devil” named Satina offering him true friendship? Philip only knows one thing for sure: that he wants to escape his apprenticeship before the devil expires. Andersen’s morally gray series opener rests on the argument that evil is, in fact, necessary. As the devil says, “We can’t see without light, but we can’t see without darkness, either. We need both to be able to navigate.” Hell is populated with colorful demons, such as Flux and Aziel, who live in hell’s grisly suburbs; on Maim Street, Philip hears “muffled screams...from the buried mouths when he trudged upon their bleeding skulls.” It’s graphic imagery, indeed, but the author manages to inject occasional silliness, such as Lucifax’s wry commentary: “Down here, humor is always dark.” Eventually, the young man must deal with teenage jealousy, along with other, more devilish traits. Andersen’s exceptional plotting ensures that its sequel will be irresistible.
An enjoyably disturbing supernatural tale.
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Høst & Søn
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019
Andersen’s hero is back in hell, this time helping Death himself, in the YA series that began with The Devil’s Apprentice (2018).
Philip Engel has just started eighth grade. Since recently returning from hell, he’s been indulging his devilish side with risky behavior. He can often hear the voice of Satina, a girl devil he befriended, egging him on in his head. One night, after seeing his mother suffer a crippling migraine, Philip wakes from a nightmare. Outside his window is a horrible storm—and an old man he recognizes as Mortimer, aka Death. Philip ventures into the courtyard, and lightning strikes a tree that hits his head. The boy wakes up on a landing between heaven and hell. Though he misses his deceased father, Victor, who he’s sure is in heaven, he also misses Satina. His decision is made when the devil girl appears and escorts him to Death’s house. There, Mortimer reveals that his hundred-sided die, used to determine the length of a mortal's life, has been stolen. When Philip sees the hourglass representing his mother’s life, almost empty of sand, he agrees to help Death on one condition: that he’s granted a roll of the die to try to keep his mother alive longer. In this sequel Andersen quickly reorients readers to Philip’s world and offers a fresh mystery. Hell and its outskirts are moodily detailed as a place where “stunted, leafless trees stretched like praying creatures reaching up with a thousand slender fingers.” Old companions like Lucifax the cat and the devil himself return, as do bits of philosophy that give the series weight, including the line, “Men and women value only that which they might lose….Without death, life is uninteresting and utterly meaningless.” Andersen also humorously deals with familiar parts of the Bible, such as “a flood to cleanse earth of all its scum and waywardness.” Philip’s growth as a character remains a priority, too, and the true whereabouts of his father are teased throughout the narrative. The finale resets the board for the next installment.
A clever series continues in a novel that despite its grim setting is often sweet.
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018
Page count: 325pp
Publisher: Høst & Søn
Review Posted Online: March 4, 2020
Antboy Movie Official Trailer
THE DEVIL'S APPRENTICE: Karen Blixen Award
THE DEVIL'S APPRENTICE: The School Librarian Children's Book Award
THE DEVIL'S APPRENTICE: ORLA Award
THE DIE OF DEATH: THE GREAT DEVIL WAR 2: ORLA AwardA Devilishly Good Bestseller, 2020
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!