Check out my review as well as an excerpt of The Devil’s Apprentice below!
Author: Kenneth B. Anderson
Released: September 30th, 2005
Received: Blog Tour
I received a copy of The Devil’s Apprentice in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Devil’s Apprentice is a novel that is both familiar and unfamiliar; unique and complex. It’s the tale of mistaken identity taken to extreme levels, and how one boy has to survive and make decisions that he can live with.
Philip is not the sort of kid that you picture when you think of the replacement for the Devil – yet that is exactly the situation he finds himself in. In life, Philip was a sweet kid. And he remains so even in death. Now he’s trying to survive the underworld – while making decisions that feel right for him.
This is a fantasy novel perfect for a variety of ages. The description may make it appear like it shouldn’t be available to younger readers, but the writing alone makes it a bit more approachable than you might otherwise expect.
Warnings: The Devil’s Apprentice started off showing a rather intense bullying situation. It might be uncomfortable to many readers.
The Devil’s Apprentice wasn’t quite like anything I’ve read before. I went into it expecting the tone to be very heavy (given the description) but I was surprised by what I found. It was a bit intense at times, but it never hit the point where I found myself needing a break.
Honestly, I can see why The Devil’s Apprentice has a solid rating on Goodreads – I was enthralled from start to finish. Kenneth B. Anderson managed to balance out the emotions in unexpected ways.
Philip is described as being a good boy, and his actions time and again proved the truth of that statement. It was refreshing to see a character like Philip – exactly as advertised. And of course, his behavior served as a fascinating mirror for the world he’s been placed into.
As for the hell and demon elements? I was a little bit concerned, going into this novel. I’m saying that to be brutally honest here. But I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Anderson took the core elements of these themes and managed to twist them into something new. They were still recognizable for what they were (of course), but they didn’t end up feeling tired or overdone; something that I had feared.
I really enjoyed The Devil’s Apprentice, though I can’t believe how quickly I got through it. I suppose that says something about the read, huh? I’m going to have to look up more of Kenneth B. Anderson’s works in the future, because I’m curious about what else he’s written.
“You’re fairly young, aren’t you?” A forked tongue moistened his scaly fingers, and he flipped through more pages. “How old are you?”
“Thirteen?” the beast mumbled, clearly impressed. “It’s not very often they come to us so young. You must’ve done something really horrific.”
“What do you mean?” Philip shook his head. “What is this place?”
“This place?” The monster raised an eyebrow. “Haven’t you figured it out yet? Oh well, evilness and stupidity often go hand in hand.” His crooked smile revealed pointed teeth, and his gruff voice lowered to a hiss. “This, my boy, is the outer court of Hell. That—” he directed a hooked nail at the black gate, “is Hell.”
“Hell?” Philip whispered, and he saw it all again in his mind. The cat that had spoken to him. The shove to his back that had sent him hurtling into the street. Sam’s triumphant howling. The sound of squealing brakes. The car and the elderly man behind the wheel. And the darkness that had followed.
A dream, he’d said as he stood at the top of the long stairwell, knowing deep inside that it was a lie. This was no dream.
The car hit me, he thought. It hit me, and I’m dead. I died, and now I’m in… in…
“Hell?” he repeated, totally confused. How could he be in Hell? Only evil people went to Hell. Right? “I’m in Hell?”
“You need to say that three times before it sinks in?” the demon said, skimming through his book. “But it could be worse. Plenty others have to say it many more times before it sinks in. Ah, here it is! Let me see.” From the breast pocket of his robe he drew out a pair of silver-framed spectacles and put them on. The demon scanned the page quickly, using his finger as a guide.
“Just like I said,” he shouted angrily, pounding the book with his balled fist. “No one was supposed to enter tonight! Not for a few hours anyway, when an entire troop of politicians were to arrive!” The creature shook his head resignedly. “Well, since you’ve already spoiled my night off, I might as well send you straight to your punishment. What is your name, kid?”
Philip didn’t reply, but stared at the demon, dumbstruck.
“Wake up! We don’t have all night. Eternity waits. Your name?”
Philip cleared his throat timidly. “Philip.”
“Philip, Philip, Philip,” the demon mumbled, riffling back and forth a few pages. He wrinkled his brow. “That’s odd. Last name?”
Philip told him his full name, and once again the demon searched in his book. The wrinkles in his brow deepened, and his yellow nails scratched at his scalp. Then he shook his head and clapped the book shut with a sigh. “That name isn’t in the registry. Some dumb fool has made a mistake, kid. You’re not supposed to be here.”
“I’m not?” Philip said and felt a warm relief spreading through him. Then his eyes fell on the inky, thick darkness that enveloped the walls of Hell, and his sense of relief vanished. “Then where should I be?”