Friday 1 June 2012

Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need

A Fiend in Need (Dark Lord) A Fiend in Need (Dark Lord) by Jamie Thomson, illustrated by Freya Hartas (Orchard/Hachette)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781408315125
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

This is the second book in the Dark Lord series, perhaps a challenge at 436 pages, but once into the story it is hard to put down, and both boys and girls will find it captivating.

Jamie Thomson has combined a highly original fantasy with down-to-earth realities, resulting in a terrific, funny-scary read. The evil monster, Dark Lord, was cast out of his realm and now lives in the body of a thirteen-year old school boy from Surrey, England. He is known as Dirk Lloyd, and has become friends with Christopher, a normal enough boy, and Sooz, a Goth, who are also thirteen years old. Dirk is desperate to return to his own world but the spell he cast has sent Sooz there instead. She was wearing Dirk’s Ring of Power, and very soon she finds it indeed to be a mighty weapon against orcs and paladins.

Dirk modifies Christopher’s mobile phone to contact Sooz. The boys are worried she will be annihilated without Dirk’s help. But to Dirk’s dismay, Sooz is doing very well on her own for the present. He feels his authority and status are being undermined, and his return to the Darklands is now even more urgent.

Hasdruben the White Wizard, Dirk’s arch-enemy has sent the White Witch to Earth to snuff him out. She has mesmerized Christopher’s mother to allow her to stay and be nanny, Dumpsy Deary, to the boys. None of her tricks harm Dirk, and the boys use her boots to go to the Darklands to rescue Sooz. Sooz’s success as the Moon Queen was shortlived. She has been captured by Hasdruben.

The boys manage to infiltrate Hasdruben’s Tower and find Sooz but things deteriorate, including the loyalty of Dirk towards his young school friends. Suddenly living in the Darklands with the Dark Lord is very scary indeed.

Readers will not only enjoy the storyline but get a lot of kicks out of Dirk’s antics, e.g., the DarkPhone which has little arms to hold on to your ear so you can speak hands-free; his signature laugh: Mwah hah hah!, his ominous threats, e.g., TAKE HIM TO THE DUNGEONS, NOW, OR BY THE NINE HELLS I WILL EVISCERATE HIM WITH THE CLAW OF RIPPING DEATH! AND ANYONE ELSE IF THEY DON’T JUMP TO IT!

A Fiend in Need (Dark Lord) is packed with wildly imaginative potions, curses and inhabitants of the Darklands. The black and white drawings give extra insights, and there is also a map – a must for fantasy novels.

Will the Dark Lord’s evil nature be changed by his more peaceable companions? A third book in the series might reveal the answer, so hopefully it won’t be long before it arrives.

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