What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is a little gore and several killings in this tale, making it more appropriate for middleschoolers and up than for the 9-12 age range the publisher recommends. But there's not enough gore to put it in the horror genre and the humor and good nature of the main character add a milder quality. The demons (represented here more as manifestations of chaos) aren't all evil; many of the ones who live with the main character are more mischievous than bad. The Beast, however, is truly evil, and his natural prey is lost children.
What's the story?
A 15-year-old orphan named Nat finds himself in charge of a houseful of demons after his mentor dies unexpectedly. It's not a sunny day in Seattle: The Beast living in the basement longs for fresh food -- preferably fresh children. His mentor's previous protege, the Thin Man, has gone over to the dark side, and is on his way to Nat's to make the Beast his own. Some skaters break into his house and set the Beast free, but not before he kills and eats one of them. Nat sets off to capture the Beast and finds assistance from unexpected places, including one of the young library staffers who has a crush on him. There are a few deaths before Nat, his minions, and his new friends stop the evil Thin Man and the Beast, and restore a rightful order to the chaos that longs to break free and conquer Seattle.
Is it any good?
Nat is an irresistible, unexpected hero in a fast-paced adventure that will have readers wishing for more. Wickedly funny, smart, lonely, and out of place wherever he goes, Nat is beloved only by his minions. Teens will have no trouble relating to this hero who is simply trying to get by -- managing his household of demons and an evil threat while still trying to get a date. And it's a nice touch when he offers another lost kid the same opportunities he was given.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Nat's journey, and why his ability to "see" demons might have made finding an adoptive family difficult.
Where does the idea of demons as manifestations of chaos come from? Is this an ancient belief? Is the demonkeeper lore based on mythology?
What do you think the most important quality of a demonkeeper is?
Why does Nat befriend Richie? How does Sandy see past the image of Nat as a weirdo and a misfit?