Kill the Farm Boy is a humorous fantasy novel from Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. This is a pretty powerful team up, as Hearne is well-known for his Iron Druid Chronicles and Dawson did the recent Phasma novel for the Star Wars universe. But this book didn’t work for me.
The marketing materials for Kill the Farm Boy liken it to Terry Pratchett and The Princess Bride. Now, I’ve only read a few Pratchett books, I never quite got into him, but I grew up on The Princess Bride movie and have read the book. And I don’t recall Discworld or The Princess Bride having nearly as many dick jokes as this book has.
In the world of Pell, the beautiful and mysterious elves live in Morningwood. If the idea of an entire chapter of double entendres about that name sounds like your idea of a good time, you’ll absolutely love Kill the Farm Boy.
“But AJ,” I hear you saying, “You loved Pantheon and that starts off with a joke about a god having a wank. Do you like dick jokes or not?”
I don’t know what to tell you, good readers. I have a very particular sense of humor. Some dick jokes are uproariously funny. But an entire chapter of erection humor had me rolling my eyes and saying “Yes, I get it.”
Part of the problem is that the tone of the book is so uneven. It wants to be a commentary on the tired “farm boy is the chosen one” trope. It wants to give us interesting strong female characters, but it also wants to remind us that they have boobs. It wants to be funny. But sometimes characters die terrible deaths.
There were moments of this book that I really loved. There’s a really sweet lesbian romance threaded throughout the book. There’s some good send-ups of genre tropes. The book is pretty well-paced and while the setting is a pretty generic fantasy world, the world building and magic rules remain consistent throughout.
But as hard as this book tried to honor Terry Pratchett, it instead called to mind Piers Anthony. I mean, not as gross and creepy as Xanth could get, but the humor is very juvenile and punny.
The thing is, I get it. Twelve year old boys are the ones who most need to let go of their attachment to the farm boy trope. They need to learn that they are not the chosen one and that they are not going to be handed women and riches as trophies.
That said, as much as boys need to read this book, I suspect most of the people who want to read this book are going to be people like me: thirty-something women who grew up reading about farm boy after farm boy, asking why his far more capable female love interest wasn’t the main character. Or POC sick of the white boy getting the starring role. Or LGBTQ readers who just want the chosen one to have a queer romance for once.
There are moments for readers like us. You just have to wade through a lot of sophomoric humor. Your patience with that style of humor will entirely dictate how much you enjoy this book. If you loved Xanth as a kid but as an adult cringe at some of the sexist storylines, Kill the Farm Boy will scratch that itch.
Pros: Strong female characters, diverse protagonists, lesbian romance.
Cons: Sophomoric humor, uneven tone, the middle drags a bit.
Conclusion: I was not the reader for this, but I suspect it will find a loyal audience anyway.
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne will be released on July 17th. It is being published by Random House Publishing Group. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a digital review copy!
FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.