I had the pleasure of reading all three books in the middle grade fantasy Demonkeeper series by Royce Buckingham this past weekend. The first thing that came to mind when I was reading these books: Scooby Doo meets Ghostbusters. The series as a whole is a light, entertaining adventure about a few teens who are charged with Demonkeeping, that is, corralling possessed objects and protecting both the humans from the demons and the demons themselves. The demons are embodiments of chaos, and so they really like messing with humans and creating some sort of disorder, even if it’s as simple as a rug tripping someone. This would be a great series for pre-teen and newly teenaged kids.
The first book, Demonkeeper, is about Nat, an apprenticed, seventeen-year-old Demonkeeper whose master disappears. Nat is left with a house full of demons and must battle someone – the Thin Man – who is trying to free the most dangerous of the demons. First I’ll say this: these aren’t fire and brimstone demons. These demons come in all forms, from elementals (wind, fire, earth, water) to everyday furniture to sounds to little pet creatures that serve the Demonkeepers. They’re a riot throughout the books. A little spark shocks people, curtains fly, chewing gum sticks in people’s hair, and so on. In the first installment, we meet Nat and Richie. Nat is forced to care for the demons, thwart the bad guy and also adopts thirteen-year-old street urchin Richie [Shaggy, maybe?] as his apprentice. We also meet Sandy, a nerdish teenager [think Thelma from Scooby Doo] who works in a library and ends up as Nat’s girlfriend. Poor Richie seems to get picked on by the demons, which is pretty funny throughout the series.
The second book, Demoneater, introduces my favorite character in all the books: the pretty hippy girl, Lilli [who reminded me of Daphne from Scooby Doo.] I loved how Buckingham described her and what she does. She collects possessed art and keeps it in a trailer. The art and colors are always changing, and the idea of colors being alive was really cool. But, to the plot of this book: Nat is battling something called a Demoneater, which is exactly what it sounds like. The Demoneater is running around killing and eating demons, rendering the world a much deader place without the possessed things out there. As a last resort to save the demons and deprive the Demoneater from food, he unleashes all the demons in the house in order to save them from the Demoneater. The kids defeat the Demoneater and are left with an entire city full of possessed things that they must now clean up.
Book three, Demonocity, is about their clean-up effort. Nat is also trying to come to grips with what he learns about his parents death, because the elemental that killed them tries to track him down, too. He feels like he’s failed at Demonkeeping, has a teen-life crisis and runs away for awhile, leaving Richie and the two girls (Sandy and Lilli) in charge of hunting down the demons. At first, they don’t want to, because well, it’s a big job and their fearless leader, Nat, ran off. But they end up stepping forward and helping the city by trapping the demons they can. I liked watching Richie and Lilli grow in this book, as well as Nat. The little demons have tons of surprises and help them save the day. I felt like Nat could’ve been a little more developed in this installment, and he honestly falls for any girl that looks his way, which I found irritating, because I thought Lilli was perfect for him. (Disclaimer: obviously, I look for the romance in every book I read LOL) He ends up staying with Sandy, who was probably my least favorite character.
About Royce Buckingham [Source: Amazon author’s page]
Royce Buckingham was born in Richland, Washington and grew up in the 70’s downriver from the Hanford nuclear plant. This might explain his mutated view of the world and provides the perfect setting for his book, The Dead Boys.
As a kid, Royce dreamed of making up fantasy stories. He loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Phantom Tollbooth and The Hobbit. He collected comic books, watched Jaws at nine years old, then Star Wars at eleven and Alien at thirteen. He was even a Dungeons & Dragons nerd and created his own imaginary worlds.
As an adult, Royce obtained an English degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and received his law degree from the University of Oregon, paving the way for a job as a prosecuting attorney. It was his work as a prosecutor and his love of fantasy that led him to write his first book, Demonkeeper.
Demonkeeper began as a short story inspired by a street kid Buckingham used to prosecute regularly in juvenile court. He was thirteen, had a green Mohawk, and Buckingham would see him downtown begging change. One day he disappeared, and nobody seemed to notice. Even his parents didn’t seem to know where he’d gone, or care. Buckingham imagined the chaos of street life as a monster that rose and ate him up while people weren’t paying attention, as it does with so many lost children. He wrote a screenplay from that story. The script evolved into a much more lighthearted and fun tale than the original short story, but the message remained–kids need stability, family and a home.
His longtime goal of being published became a reality after 13 years of writing in his spare time. In 2005, he hit a home run, selling his first book Demonkeeper to both Putnam and 20th Century Fox within a month of each other. Demonkeeper then hit the bestseller list in Germany. He now has five books to his credit and continues to write in his dwindling spare time.
Buckingham lives in Bellingham, WA with his beautiful wife, whom he met in the courtroom when she came to cover one of his criminal cases as a reporter. They now have two fabulous boys who help with his books and a huge black hound from the dog pound. Thankfully none have been eaten by demons…or goblins…or mutated trees.