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*Demonkeeper* by Royce Buckingham- young readers fantasy book review

by Royce Buckingham
Ages 9-12 pages Putnam May 2007 Hardcover    

Donít be surprised if a razor-sharp claw helps you turn the pages of this terrific book. According to the author, demons are all around us but prefer to stay hidden as they tease humans with harmless pranks. Unfortunately, there are other demons that need to be contained, and thatís when a skilled demonkeeper is needed.

After Natís parents die, Dhaliwahl, a demonkeeper living in Seattle, opens his home to the orphaned boy and teaches him the fundamentals of the proper care, feeding and keeping of demons. Dhaliwahlís death causes Nat to go solo a lot sooner than he would like, but the teenage apprentice is willing to give it a try. Itís too bad no one has told the demons that the new kid on the block is now their authority figure. Nat quickly discovers that his hands are full, but a moment of carelessness leaves the basement empty. Releasing the Beast was definitely a bad thing to do, but not capturing the crazy critter is going to be a whole lot worse.

Written with a unique blend of funny and fearsome, this novel stomps, slithers and soars with a creative cast of characters. Natís spooky house literally comes alive in every nook and cranny as the demons make their appearances at odd times and with surprising results. The authorís wit, both wacky and wonderful, causes the pages to jiggle with giggles. The humor evokes vibrant mental images of demons straddling the fence of scary and silly.

There is also a serious side as the Beast is unleashed on an unsuspecting city. Although Natís confidence is shaken, he finds a way to handle the situation with a little help from his friends. The conclusion leaves readers with a likable hero and a genuine hope to see this Demonkeeper in future stories.

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