Devil’s Bane: Tales of a Fourth Grade Warrior by Ken MacGregor
Dragon’s Roost Press (May 2020)
160 pages; $8.99 paperback; $5.99 e-book
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
I know Ken MacGregor mostly for his harder stuff. That Burnt Fur, Sex and Centipedes stuff. I always liked it. He can be super abrasive, rambunctious, gross and fun while still keeping a fair amount of heart in the ordeal. But a middle grade book? I thought he was joking.
Nope. Devil’s Bane is a solid middle grade book about a fourth grader (Josh) who finds himself unexpectedly thrust into the family business of monster hunting. It’s also a heck of a fun read for an older dude, too. Except when it isn’t, but I’ll get to that.
Yes, it is aimed at a younger crowd. There isn’t the sex, violence and creatively crude language I was used to from MacGregor. The word choices and sentence structure are simple. It works well for the expected demographic.
It also moves like greased lightning. The action is heavy and fast. He also doesn’t shy away from the crazy critters, since this is a tale of a monster hunter. And the characters are well rounded and fleshed out.
I will warn you that it gets a bit Bridge to Terabithia, but that is broadcast pretty early, so it isn’t a surprise. It also deals with the loss of a loved one in a simple but honest and caring fashion. Just might be a bit too much for someone who has recently lost someone they care about.
If you have kids, you can’t go wrong with Devil’s Bane. If you don’t, but you like quick, punchy light horror, then you’ll enjoy yourself as well. Even if you do cry occasionally.