Kill the Farm Boy is a coming-of-age story. Well, sort of. It’s as satirical of its tropes as Monty Python is of, well, everything. It’s got enough puns to be a Xanth novel but it’s a lot better a story. It’s got a Chosen One who isn’t up to the task, political intrigue, romance, an elder statesman I can actually look up to, and interesting ways to die.
Oh and did I mention the talking goat?
Here’s how good this book was. I finished it, put it down, and preordered No Country for Old Gnomes (the next book in the series) immediately.
Come for the poop jokes, stay for the talking goat.
Okay so the first thing you need to know, because I tip my biases, is I’ve essentially loved everything that Ursula Vernon / T. Kingfisher has written since Digger was just another webcomic in the list of 100 I hit daily.
That being said, most of the works of hers I’ve read have been in the form of either modern retellings of old fairy tales (of which Bryony and Roses is probably my favorite) or Dragonbreath chapter books (because you’re never too old for good chapter books).
The Clocktaur Wars aren’t like that. Way way not like that.
My understanding is that Ursula Vernon got annoyed about how poorly other people told the “tortured Paladin rejected by his god” trope, and decided to fix it. And fix it she did.
This book has supernatural dealings. It has a pantheon of gods. It has tattoos that bite. It has a very talented forger who I want to be when I grow up. It has a tortured paladin. It has dead demons and live ones. It has romance and tension and cute talking animals and not-cute-at-all terrifying monsters and an ending that had me both going “wait what the FUCK just happened?” and “well of course because that’s the only logical thing that can happen no wait WHAT THE FUCK.”
Oh, yeah, this one is certainly not a chapter book for the kiddies. (Although frankly 12-year-old me would’ve loved it as much as I do now.)
So read Clockwork Boys and love it and then read The Wonder Engine because after the first one you’re not just going to hang on that cliff forever.
Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen (Illustrator) book is about an Earth where Superman is a comic book hero, and Clark Kent is a boy who grew up in Kansas hating Superman — because of the name, obviously.
I get it. I was born a Kent too. (According to one site I checked, Kent is the 778th most popular surname in the United States, so there are quite a lot of us.) I didn’t get nearly as much teasing as my brother (who is not named Clark), and certainly not as much as Clark Kent in this book gets — because his family all thought it was hilarious.
But just like every kid, I wondered if I was a superhero, or a mutant, or any of those things (It was a little too early to wonder if I was a wizard.) And I wish I’d had this book at 13 or 15 or even 25 to remind me that superheroes lives aren’t any easier, nor are they any harder, they’re just different. And ultimately, that somehow makes it all okay.
Update: It’s hard to capture in one post how much this story meant to me. Six months later, just thinking about it still makes my heart ache in a good way. Hopefully you’ll get as much out of it as I did.
Bird and Moon is one of those comics that shows up in my twitter feed, but that I haven’t had a chance to check out.
It is excellent. Scientifically factual, and at the same time funny. Well-drawn and clear. Precise. And much easier to carry around in book form than to find in my twitter feed.
It’s obvious from the tiny details in Sean Grigsby’s book Smoke Eaters that he is a professional firefighter (a fact that his bio confirm) and he puts that knowledge to good use in this fast-paced romp through a future US where dragons have emerged from the earth and destroyed all but a few city-states.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see firefighters fighting dragons instead of knights (with both laser swords and lances, no less!). And it’s also a breath of fresh air to have a protagonist old enough to be my father leading the pack.
If you liked Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, the pacing of the writing and the stubbornness of the protagonist will feel familiar… but not a big surprise since they’re both published by Angry Robot.
All in all a romp of a read.