Friday, October 4, 2019

The Dark Lord Clementine

The Dark Lord Clementine 
by Sarah Jean Horwitz
336 pages; ages 9 - 13
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019

Last month I was checking out the pile of books in my To Be Reviewed basket… and was just about to put this in the “later” stack when I flipped it open to read the first sentence. Good thing I did, because… well, I’ll let the book speak for itself.

Clementine Morcerous awoke one morning to discover that her father had no nose.

And really! How could I put it down after that!

I love the premise: Clementine’s father, the Dark Lord, is wasting away. And if he disappears completely, she is the only one to carry on his name – and his life’s work. But Clementine isn’t nearly as dark as her dad. We can see this when she’s in the garden and there, away from the spiky, carnivorous, bloodsucking plants, she’s raising flowers. Dark Lords do NOT raise flowers!

What I like about this book:

  • There is mystery. What is happening to her father? Who is responsible for chipping bits off him?
  • There is fear. How will Clementine get on with managing the estate should her father’s magic disappear?
  • There is a longing. While on a trip to town to buy bread and candles and other necessities, Clementine hides in the trees behind the schoolyard to watch the kids play. Wouldn’t it be fun to have friends?
  • There is a challenge. Someone wants to usurp the Dark Lord’s power. Or are they really after something else?
  • There are unexpected allies. Like Sebastian, who wants to be a knight and had seen Clementine hiding in the forest. And while there is no sword in the stone, there are plenty of swords stuck in the ground, courtesy of the Lady of the Lake, who has really bad aim.
  • There are adventures.
  • And there is an inside glimpse of the sorts of intellectual property disputes that rage between Evil Overlords.
  • Mostly, there is a lot of fun!

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. Oh, my. That is a great first sentence. I don't read much in the fantasy arena, but this sounds like one I would like. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I would pick it up because of the title; I would take it out of the library because of the cover; and that first line has definitely hooked me. Now I need this book!

  3. This sounds like so much fun. Sounds a bit like one of my favorite Eva Ibbotson books, "Which Witch?" I'll definitely pick this up.

  4. That's a great line that makes me want to read it too. I love mystery and adventure stories.

  5. What a gem of a first line! The story sounds irresistible. I've added it to my future read list.

  6. What a fantastic opening. It will grab readers right away. Lots of suspense. I like how you reviewed this book -- there is a fear...a longing...etc. You drew me into the story!

  7. I loved your review of this book, especially your last bullet, 'Mostly, there is a lot of fun!' Thanks for sharing this gem for MMGM.