Confessions of a Dork Lord

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
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Tale of magic-impaired underdog on quest is slow, overdone.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lessons on navigating people in different situations and the non-academic parts of school.

Positive Messages

Persevere when things seem impossible; learn to trust people but stick to your convictions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wick's parents are able to support him even after their death, and his guardian is gruff but means well and cares for him in his own way.  

Violence & Scariness

Mild peril and fighting, all age-appropriate and cartoonish.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mike Johnston's Confessions of a Dork Lord is a rambling, overdone underdog fantasy tale that follows Wick, the orphaned heir to the Dark Lord, in battles with school bullies and on an epic quest to recover a legendary scepter stolen from the castle. There's a lot of buildup to the quest, with seemingly endless details about school and teachers, but there isn't much to Wick's actual journey. Wick spends a lot of time talking about himself in ways that will amuse readers who haven't read other books in the "bumbling young antihero" fantasy subgenre. There are some nice moments with his parents when they briefly return, and younger readers will likely find the fart spells and other pranks funny.

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What's the story?

In CONFESSIONS OF A DORK LORD, young Wick is the orphaned heir to the Dark Lord, trying to survive Middle Ages School and to live up to his destiny to take over where his dad left off. Trouble is, Wick is only 12, he's shorter than the others at his school, gets picked on, can't do magic, has allergies that get in the way, and lives with a guardian who feeds him eel soup and gives him what Wick thinks are the worst chores in the castle. But when the mighty scepter disappears, Wick decides to go on a quest to retrieve it, even if that means going into the Ice Castle of his enemies. What he doesn't consider is that he will have company on his journey ...

Is it any good?

Fantasy books are filled with epic quests and underdogs and magic, and sometimes humor, and this one doesn't offer anything new. Confessions of a Dork Lord takes a long time to tell its story, and the story feels like a rewrite of other funny fantasy adventures with more convoluted names and descriptions. Wick's quest seems forced, and there's somehow both too much and not enough detail throughout. There are some funny moments with spells that younger readers might enjoy, but they'll need to wade through pages of text to get there.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kind of pressure Wick feels in Confessions of a Dork Lord. If his dad wasn't such a legend, do you think Wick would feel the same pressure to succeed at magic? How would that change his outlook?

  • What could Wick do to improve his situation without going on the quest? Is that his only option?

  • What other funny books about magic and fantasy have you read?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and magic

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