Book Review: The Demon King and the Boy Who Hardly Knew Anything by Pat Ellis

When King Gregor attacks the country of Aranfeit and kills their king, princes Grey and Fry escape with two guards and a prisoner, Erik, who they believe can help in the country they're heading to. But Gregor has some hidden secrets and tricks up his sleeve, and when he allows a long-imprisoned demon into his body, demons are unleashed upon the land, the fate of the whole world is at stake, and it's up to Erik, Grey, Fry, their guards, and some sort of magical crystal that has been entrusted to them to stop the demon king.

Book Review: The Demon King and the Boy Who Hardly Knew Anything by Pat Ellis | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, high fantasy, lgbt
Title: The Demon King and the Boy Who Hardly Knew Anything
Pages: 431
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received an ecopy of this book via Story Cartel. This has not influenced my review.*

There were some things this book did really well, but other aspects were a little rough around the edges, so I’ll talk about both.

First off, there were a lot of POVs. That alone is not inherently bad, but I think this book could’ve benefited from headings to let the reader know whose POV we were in each time it switched. There were also flashbacks, so sometimes you had to figure out the time you were in too. I don’t know if all the POVs were truly necessary, but I think the author was going for that kind of TV show feel in which the reader would know everything that was going on everywhere with all the characters. But the characters’ voices did all sound somewhat different from each other, and one thing the author did well was really stay in the POV of the character; if the character didn’t hear/understand/see something, etc., the reader didn’t either.

As for the characters themselves, I’m not sure there was meant to be one single protagonist, but if there was, I would say it was Erik, which was ok with me because I found Erik the most interesting. I have to say though, Fry really grew on me. At first he was kind of just the selfish, useless one you rolled your eyes at a lot, but he turned out to be the most sensible and self-aware, I realized he was actually right about some of the things he pointed out, and his reluctance was realistic—he just wanted to keep himself and his loved ones safe instead of attempting to save the entire world and running off on some quest that none of them even understood the point of. And in the end, he turned out to have more heart than he originally seemed to. And Number 3 was just likeable for how kind of strange he was.

There was an info-dump near the beginning, but I liked it. I’m usually confused about countries and politics when it comes to high fantasy, but this laid it all out there right away and explained it in an entertaining way that made sense. I had a hard time getting a handle on the world though. It was high fantasy in the sense that it was set in another land with magic and witches and demons, but it also had most of the same modern technology/fashion/language that we have here, yet it still felt kind of not-modern. The dialogue also felt off, like it might’ve suffered from the same problem of high fantasy and modern things clashing.

The plot was not bad, but it struggled to keep my attention a bit. For a while, it seemed like the main characters weren’t really the ones making things happen, that they were just being told things and having things happen to them, and everyone kept talking about it was fate deciding things, so I didn’t really see the point of anything. But then it kinda changed near the end when apparently the rules were changing and it turned out things were interfering with fate, and it seemed more like the characters’ actions did matter and make a difference. But there were still some magical things throughout the book that seemed a little random and unexplained.

At it’s heart though, this was more of a love story than anything. Yes, the characters were trying to save the world from the demon king, but the relationship was at least equally as much the goal/focus. And I was rooting for the characters.

Lastly, I wanted to mention the artwork inside. There are a few black-and-white sketches of the characters, nothing too fancy, but I liked them. And normally I don’t like those retro-looking covers, but, for some reason, I kinda love this one.

So overall, the dialogue, world, and plot could’ve been better, but there was magic and good characters and a nice love story.


Book Blurb

Greylock Bishop, youngest prince of Aranfeit, better known as Grey by those who matter, is decidedly unremarkable and more bored than ever. But, when—through poor luck and even poorer foresight—his homeland’s magical defenses finally fall at the hands of the more technologically inclined Morandians, Grey’s father entrusts him with an old crystal and, subsequently, the fate of the entire world.

Having already lost the one person in all the world he ever truly loved, Erik Michaels—veteran soldier and current POW—has resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in solitary confinement. However, two years alone with nothing but his own dark music for company hasn’t done Erik’s mood any favors. In fact, he might even be losing his mind. But, after being released from prison in exchange for assisting the Aranfei royals in their escape, Erik manages to pull himself mostly together just in time to end up at the center of a supernatural clash of powers like nothing he’s ever known. Or, at least, nothing he’d ever noticed before.

King Gregor of Morandia is over 60 years old and just now on the brink of realizing his true potential. At last, he will bring together a land divided for centuries, but at what cost? Following his acquisition of Muratan, Capitol of Aranfeit, Gregor discovers something locked away beneath the royal palace; something more old and powerful than even he himself can fathom, and far more than he’s capable of denying. What began as a petty struggle between nations has become a desperate crusade for all of humanity as Gregor finds himself riding shotgun to the Demon King, Garaak, who has a bone to pick with the frivolous and narcissistic human race. Meanwhile, the greater advantage seems to lie unnervingly with whoever manages to attain the allegiance of a strange young man with stranger magic who doesn’t even know his own name.

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  1. Karen

    I love multiple pov’s but I like to be informed of who or else I get baffled. Especially if they sound similar.

    I appreciate a good info dump with fantasy as well. it’s not a genre I read a lot of and I get lost so easily unless I can connect with the characters right away.

    For What It’s Worth

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I think it’s just always a good idea to label the POV at the beginning of the chapter. It’s disorienting starting a chapter and spending paragraphs trying to figure things out.

      Sometimes info dumps work! I also get lost easily in high fantasy lol.

  2. verushka

    This title and blurb really are quite unique, but your review has given me pause about this — I mean there are good things for sure though!

  3. sjhigbee

    This one sounds like an intriguing mash-up – and that is more or less gets away with it. Thank you for a detailed, clear review, Kristen:)

  4. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    ok I would have TOTALLY been lost in this one! besides being high fantasy which it’s too much for me… with so many POVs and MCs! My Dory brain needs simple! :) I’m surprise you gave iit 3.5! that must have been quite the love story and you must have been quite in the mood for it! :)