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Book Review: Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham

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Demonkeeper is a young adult horror novel by Royce Buckingham that is as dark and light as a Tim Burton fairytale. For most children, living in a house inhabited by monsters would be the stuff of nightmares; but for teenager Nat, it is his job.

Left an old, creaky house and all its pesky occupants by his now deceased predecessor and mentor, Dhaliwahl, Nat is charged with becoming the new Demonkeeper. Things quickly go awry when, on the one night he leaves the house, the most violent and lethal of the demons escapes. Nat must track The Beast down, with the reluctant help of his new (human) friend, Sandy, a bookish, neat, and frankly desperate girl who is even worse at parallel parking than yours truly.

To make matters worse, a former pupil of Dhaliwahl’s who had fallen out of favour arrives back in town with a score to settle. Initially known only as The Thin Man, he has his own plans about catching and using The Beast.
Despite being billed as horror, there is a healthy dose of humour that would not look out of place in a Pixar movie. From the description and antics of two young boys who get caught up in the melee, to the characters of Nat’s three little “helper” demons, even The Thin Man’s real name unintentionally made me laugh. Perhaps not everyone will agree with Dhaliwahl’s assertion that “Marriage is attempting stability. To be a keeper is wrestling always with chaos”. For some, they may be one and the same.

Although there is a good deal of comedy and wit, there is also some undeniably horrific, primeval action. Even the delicacy of choice for The Beast is tragic, in a way. Buckingham’s book covers the not so subtle fears like demons under the bed and noises in the basement, and the darker, ultimately more frightening fear of simply being alone – making it a much more wholesome tome than your average Goosebumps.

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