Book Reviews From the Vault: Kill the Farm Boy

Kill the Farm Boy is still a title that I chant every now and then, especially to the tune of “Kill the wabbit!”. Does the book fulfill the title’s high expectations? Find out here!

You know how there is always that one book whose title is so interesting that you have to read it? That was me when I saw the title of the book Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. In fact, as I began reading it, I kept chanting the title to the melody of “Kill the wabbit!”. But just because a book has a great title does not mean it will live up to the hype. Unfortunately, this was one of those cases where the novel itself did not quite live up to said hype.

About the story’s plotline, this is what you need to know in a nutshell. 1. It is a parody of a lot of tropes in the fantasy genre, especially the “Chosen One” stories. Specifically, it is a story about a Chosen One, who is unlike any other one chosen before, told in the spirit of Terry Pratchett novels and Monty Python. 2. It involves a farm boy named Worstley; a goat who calls himself Gustave; Toby, a Dark Lord who loves fine cheese; Argabella, a bard who has been turned into a half rabbit; Poltro, an assassin who is afraid of chickens; and Fia, a might warrior who wears a chain-mail bikini, and simply wants a rose. 3. It takes place in a land called Pell, and the book itself is the first book in a series called “The Tales of Pell”.

I love anything that is a parody, especially if it has a Monty Python influence, but I did not really feel the Monty Python spirit. For starters, it went off on a lot of tangents that barely had any payoffs. Monty Python would go off on tangents too, but at least with theirs, it would have a payoff like the Colonel stopping the sketch because it was too silly, or the announcer introducing a completely different sketch. Also, the book contained a lot of poop jokes. I do not have much of a problem with those kinds of jokes, yet again, they barely had any payoff. I mean, Monty Python did not do a whole lot of bodily function jokes, but when they did, it was usually treated in an adult way, thus making it more bizarre. In these ways, the book felt less like Monty Python and more like Saturday Night Live.

On a more structural note, I felt that the book had good pacing in the beginning and again in the end, yet it ironically slowed to a crawl during the middle. This made the book far less interesting than it actually should be. I wonder if it would have had similar pacing issues if it was a comedy sketch or a movie instead.

However, there are some good things that I did like. For starters, I liked the map of Pell. I bet Dawson and Hearne had a fun time while coming with names like the Bearded Plains, Muffincrumb, the Chummy Sea, and the Awfully Salty Sea. These kinds of jokes remind me of vintage Three Stooges shorts, in which they will study a map for at least a minute. They also include little side notes like on the Otters, in which they dub, “They be super cute”, and the Serpent Sea, in which they describe, “Here be Monsters, really specifically right here, not kidding”.

In addition, I rooted for the relationship between Fia and Argabella. Over the course of the journey, they develop a sense of caring towards one another that I felt believable. At one point, the group is trying to decide which path on the fork in the road to take, and Argabella has to break the tie. Fia suggests going to the Titan Toothpicks, which are supposed to be “beautiful shining pillars of stone with ribbons of color shot through them that sparkle in the sun” (94) even though there would be a great chance of dying there. Yet, Fia delivers that with a gentle tone and a smile. This impacts the half-rabbit bard as she “thought she might agree to do most anything…if Fia would just keep smiling at her like that” (94). In other words, Argabella would risk her life just so she can see Fia gently smile at her.

Overall, I felt the book was ok. There were parts that I liked and parts that fell flatter than a stack of pancakes. Some people, like Terry Pratchett fans, other Monty Python fans, people who like fairy tales, and people who like the fantasy genre in general, might like this more than me, but I was not that into it. This is disappointing, for the whole reason why I wanted to read it in the first place was because of its title. Despite this disappointment, I do not regret reading it since I can easily recommend it to the people I mentioned above and see the excitement in the eyes when they see the title Kill the Farm Boy.

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Published by emilyblakowski

I work at two public libraries in southeast Michigan, and I facilitate a book club for one of them. I also hold a Bachelor's degree in History and Theatre from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI; a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI; and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration also from Wayne. In my downtime, I love hanging out with friends, listening to music (like classic rock and K-pop), and watching shows like "Monty Python's Flying Circus"!

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