Thomson, Dirk. Dark Lord: The Early Years
2 October 2012, Walker Childrens
Curses on the White Wizard, Hasdruban the Pure! In a battle that the Dark Lord was surely winning, Hasdruban managed to send the Dark Lord into our world, where he was turned into a puny human boy. Beset by social workers and pyschologists, he is mistakenly called Dirk and sent to live with a doctor and a minister and their son Christopher. Even his Ring of Power is dull and useless. At his school, he manages to make friends with Sooz, a Goth Child of the Night, and gives the Ring to her when she admires it. Soon, Dirk has a small cadre of school mates who are willing to try to get him back to his kingdom. Attempts at this are thwarted (resulting in the unfortunate burning down of a pavilion), but Dirk makes a few inroads at contacting creatures from his world. Some are successful (like getting skirrits to rebuild said pavilion) and other are frightening (like the White Beast of his dreams that is set lose on his town in this world). Even though Dirk's memories of his kingdom are fading (although, to his chagrin, he sees that his Iron Tower of Despair has been painted pink), he manages to assemble the ingredients for a spell to send himself back; this does not go smoothly, but hopefully if the sequel, A Fiend in Need, is published in the US, we can find out what happens.
Strengths: **Snerk** This definitely deserved to win the 2012 Roald Dahl Funny Prize. So many things to recommend this; where to start? The Dark Lord's transformation is realistically portrayed-- at first, he doesn't know what things are in our world, but as his memories fade and his knowledge grows, he seems less like a Dark Lord. The descriptions are so funny, and his glee in his own evil is beautifully voiced. ("Puny humans!Oh, if only I had my gauntlets of ineluctable destruction!" page 10). This will appeal to readers of fantasy, game players, and Michael Lawrence's Jiggy McCue fans.
Weaknesses: British illustrations don't always appeal to my students, and these look too much like Jared Lee's The Librarian from the Black Lagoon pictures. While I love the Nick Sharrat illustrations for Jacqueline Wilson's books, they make my students think the book is younger than it is. Still, the cover is clever, so this will do well.
Charlotte at Charlotte's Library gives, as always, a much more complete review of this.