The son of a fallen Dark Lord looks for his own place in the world.
Azrael Bal Gorath the Wicked—“Wick” to his friends—is the heir to the throne of the grim folk. Wick’s father, the Dark Lord, ruled over ogres, orcs, goblins, witches, and warlocks alike until he vanished after fighting the faire folk’s champion, Galorian (a “good” wizard). The absent lord left nothing behind for his son, hoping the lack of titles and status would help build Wick’s character. Wick (a white preteen with a shock of red hair) spends his days evading bullies and dreaming of having the power to move on past his struggles in Remedial Spell Casting. The novel is a promising if curious blend of Dungeons and Dragons fantasy world and the typical “diary of an underdog middle schooler” fare, but the enterprise never quite gets off the ground. There’s a lot of worldbuilding up front, and the day-to-day banality doesn’t jibe well with the big-picture conflicts between the faire folk and the grim world. The novel also overstays its welcome, coming in at well over 300 pages of disjointed and poorly structured story. Wick is unpleasant, the world he inhabits is boilerplate fantasy, and his story feels sluggish when it should be brisk and rushed when it should take its time.
A miscalculated satiric fantasy that treads too-familiar ground. (Fantasy. 8-12)