“Ranks among the best of Christopher Moore and Terry Pratchett.”—Chuck Wendig
“When you put two authors of this high caliber together, expect fireworks. Or at least laughs. What a hoot!”—Terry Brooks
Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.
This is not that fairy tale.
There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.
And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.
There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord, who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.
Praise for Kill the Farm Boy
“A rollicking fantasy adventure that upends numerous genre tropes in audacious style . . . a laugh-out-loud-funny fusion of Monty Python–esque humor and whimsy à la Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Dawson and Hearne’s reimagining of a traditional fairy tale is reminiscent of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride and William Steig’s Shrek! Irreverent, funny, and full of entertaining wordplay, this will keep readers guessing until the end.”—Library Journal
“Will have you laughing out loud until strangers begin to look at you oddly.”—SyFy
“A smart comedy . . . nuanced, complicated, and human.”—Tordotcom
“[Delilah Dawson and Kevin Hearne] make fun of the typical ‘white male power fantasies,’ and in that, they succeed, with their heroes all characters of color and/or falling somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella.”—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Delilah S. Dawson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Phasma, Hit, Servants of the Storm, the Blud series, the creator-owned comics Ladycastle and Sparrowhawk, and the Shadow series (written as Lila Bowen). She lives in Florida with her family and a fat mutt named Merle.
Read an Excerpt
In a Foreboding Tower, Glowing with Portent or Possibly Pollen
Many moons ago in a principality far, far away, a hirsute lady slept in a tower that was covered in thorns. In general, such an occurrence would not be considered worthy of note, for people slept in towers all the time regardless of their current level of hair growth.
But in this particular case, it was not just the lady who slept. Almost everyone in the castle was magically sleeping, including the earl and countess and even Oxnard the guard, sitting in the kitchen with his mouth open, eyes closed in bliss, forever eating a piece of cherry pie, thereby creating with each passing minute a new world record for extended pie eating. Dogs, horses, children, knights, the bathing woman with soap in her eyes—everyone stood or sat or lay as if frozen in midaction, even when such actions were wildly inopportune.
The sole exception to the rule was the owner of a lonesome, warbling voice that could be heard every so often singing songs about remembered conversations, and how awfully quiet sleeping people tended to be, and how if someone didn’t arrive with groceries soon, a certain someone would go to sleep and wake up dead, because Oxnard the guard didn’t have the keys to the tower door on him and they were nowhere to be found, plus the door itself had turned into solid stone, and all the other exits and castle walls were likewise impossible to manage and food was getting rather scarce, especially cheese.
There was little else of note besides the roses peeping out from the thick blanket of vines. The plush fuchsia blossoms were as beautiful as the thorns were sharp, and there was an abundance of them both, together with a cloying scent of attar and some dizzy, happy bees that seemed to possess a particularly charmed ability to not succumb to sleep and thereby patter to the ground like furry grapes.
There was also an abundance of portent swaddled about the place. Oodles of it. A surfeit, even.
Something would go down there soon.
But for now, the lady slept.
And drooled a little, probably.
In a Squalid Barnyard in Borix, Redolent of Feces and Angst
The very worst part about drudgery, Worstley thought, was all the blasted drudging one had to do. Nothing joyful or fun or frolicsome around the corner for a lowly farm boy like him to look forward to. Just more drudgery of a mind-sapping, soul-sucking nature—and on a good day, no cause for involuntary upchuckery.
At least he’d become somewhat accustomed to cleaning up the barnyard after his older brother, Bestley, had been stabbed in the heart by Lord Ergot for being too handsome. Some said barnyard duties were a step up from scrubbing the chimney, but Worstley wasn’t so sure. It had been almost nine months since he’d last vomited at the smell of assorted animal dung, but it was a constant struggle. It was still his least favorite chore, and he had to do it every other day: walk out there with a shovel and a sack among the goats and the pigs and the chickens and those dratted geese that goosed him whenever they could and scoop up whatever foul turds they had excreted since the last time he’d cleaned up. And after that, the stables awaited the same routine. Only then could he have a sad waffle with no syrup on it for breakfast. He didn’t think his mother made them properly: rumor in the village had it that waffles weren’t supposed to be gray.
Like most cheerless days in Borix, the sky was the color of his mother’s waffles. Worstley sighed at the clouds, exasperated. “Would it kill you to let the sun shine through every once in a while?” he said.
The demon geese honked at the sound of his voice and waddled his way, hissing, wings extended in a threat display. Worstley raised his shovel in front of him protectively. “Go on, now. Shoo!” he said.
As he fenced with their snapping beaks for a few seconds, he couldn’t help muttering, “There’s got to be a better way to live than this.”
Had he been in a musical, he thought, right then would have been the perfect time to sing a sad song about his woeful lot in life while emphasizing his eternal optimism and plucky heart. Although he’d been born in this very barnyard—right there by the bucket of lumpy slop—he’d always felt that he was meant for greater things, for some important purpose in the larger world. But there wasn’t so much as a gap-toothed troubadour around to strike an obliging opening chord rhapsodizing about his shining future. Lord Ergot had hanged them all for singing a little ditty about his poky short sword on his wedding day.
The geese fended off, Worstley checked the position of the black billy goat that occasionally found it amusing to ram him from the blind side and bleat a laugh as he clutched his back and winced. So far the goat was staying still—Gus was his name—but he was watching Worstley carefully from the other side of the barnyard near the fence. Or at least Worstley thought Gus was watching him; it was hard to tell. The goat’s eyes never seemed to point in the same direction.
“Don’t even think it, Gus,” Worstley called.
Gus bleated, lifted his tail, and ejected a fresh pile of pellets out his backside.
“Oh, great. Why do people think animals are cute?” Worstley wondered aloud. “They’re just nasty.”
“Aw, you got it easy, kid,” a voice called from the fence to the right of the billy goat. Worstley’s eyes slid in that direction and spied a diminutive form perched on a post. “Goats ain’t nothing. You want a dangerous pile of poop, wait until you get a load of dragon dump. It’s hot and sulfurous and will burn the hairs right out of your nose.”
“Who are you?” Worstley asked. “Better yet, what are you?”
“C’mere, kid. We gotta talk.”
Keeping a wary eye out for attacks from geese and goat, Worstley drew closer to the fence to get a better look at the speaker.
Whoever she was, she had a set of double wings like a dragonfly’s branching from her back, thin and translucent and veined with iridescent colors. They were the most beautiful things Worstley had ever seen. But the owner of said wings wasn’t precisely the image of a proper fairy. A rather large mole with three stiff and proud hairs sprouting from it was rooted on the side of her left nostril. She had two black holes where teeth should’ve been, and the three remaining molars were capped with gold. A single eyebrow not unlike a furry caterpillar wriggled about on her forehead.
Worstley would’ve expected a glittering dress, dainty as a flower, but such was not in the offing. She wore a shirt that looked more like a used handkerchief, possibly swiped from someone with the plague. Her dull red pants ballooned over the thighs with the right leg bunched at the knee, revealing one blue threadbare sock. Her left pants leg fell to her ankle, but that foot was sadly sockless. Dirt rimmed her toenails, and she radiated a powerful funk that might’ve been fungal in origin.
In short, she resembled a fairy about as much as Worstley looked like a prince.
“Are you all right?” Worstley said.
“Of course I am. I mean, apart from it being too blasted early, I’m fine.” She belched robustly. “Ah, that’s better.”
Worstley blinked. “Right. It’s just that you don’t look—”
“Like what? You’d better not say a fairy, kid,” she said, pointing a warning finger at him. The finger appeared to have a booger affixed to the tip. “I’m a pixie. Name’s Staph.”
“That’s what I said. I’m here to change your life, so we should probably get on with it so I can do something more productive with my day than talking to some scrawny cheesehole.”
Worstley took a step back and looked around, suspicious. He’d always dreamed of seeing a fairy, but never one that smelled quite so terrible. “Is this a joke? You can’t be a pixie.”
Staph blanched and looked over her shoulder to make sure she still had wings. The motion made her wobble unsteadily on the fence post. “Wings are still there. I’m a pixie. What the puck else would I be? A bogie?” She waggled her booger-tipped finger threateningly at him and cackled.
“Are you drunk?”
“Not as much as I’d like to be. Now look, kid, I’m here to tell you something important. The good news and the bad news is that you’re the Chosen One. You have a destiny, and I’m here to bless you with it. Or curse you, whatever. Anoint you, let’s say.”
“This has definitely got to be a joke. Who put you up to this?”
The pixie rolled her eyes. “Gahh, enough with that, all right? Nobody cares enough to play a joke on you, farm boy. This is destiny, all gen-u-wine and bona fide. What’s so hard to believe?”
“I thought pixies were supposed to be named Butterblossom or something, and they’re, like, I don’t know . . . clean.”
Staph’s eyes bulged, and she held up her boogery index finger to scold Worstley. “First, Butterblossom is a no-talent harpy who invades homes at night and eats little kids’ pet hamsters.” She held up another finger. “Second, clean people have no fun and they only bathe because they can’t think of anything better to do. But me, I’ve seen some right bloody business and I know things.”
Worstley shrugged and sighed and shouldered his shovel as if to say that if he had to deal with someone else’s crap in the barnyard, it should at least be the physical rather than the metaphorical kind.
“Don’t believe me? Okay, I’ll prove it to you.” The pixie hawked up a loogie and spat it at his feet. “I’ve got more magic juice than a poisoned apple orchard in Chumpspittle. That’s an ordinary goat over there, right?” Staph pointed at Gus.
“He’s kind of annoying, but otherwise, yeah.”
“Watch this.” Staph glared at the goat and thrust out a hand in a clawed gesture. The billy goat rocked back as if struck and began to choke and spit, its yellow eyes rolling back in its head. The pixie produced a tiny wand and added some extra oomph to whatever she was doing, and the goat fell over.
Worstley dropped the shovel. “Hey, what are you doing to Gus? Stop it!”
“Already done,” Staph said as she lowered her hands and put the wand away.
Kneeling by the fallen and unbreathing billy, Worstley was unsure how to give mouth-to-mouth to someone with such thin, filthy lips full of such snuggled yellow teeth. Fortunately, Gus’s round belly puffed up with air, and he rolled over and onto his callused knees, coughing.
“You okay, Gus? C’mon, buddy. If you’re dead, Mom’ll kill me. Or, actually, that might save me a step . . .”
“My name,” said the goat, newly gifted with speech, “is Gustave, not Gus. Get it straight, Pooboy.” His voice was more cultured than Worstley’s and filled the boy with rage that only made him sound more the bumpkin.
“What did you—?”
“That’s your name, genius. Pooboy. As in the boy who scoops up my poo.”
Worstley bristled and said, “That’s so juvenile, you—” but Staph cut him off before he could finish.
“Look, will you forget the goat and listen to me now? He’s not important, but I’m for real, and I’m telling you that you’re the Chosen One. You have a special destiny. You’re going to do great things.”
“Hey, it wasn’t me that chose you, okay? I just got sent here to do the deed. If I’m gonna choose a hero, you can be darned sure it’s not gonna be some whiny, pathetic punk named Pooboy.”
“That’s not my name! It’s Worstley!”
“Whatever. Like that’s any better. Anyway, you’re hereby anointed, so get to it, will ya?”
“Get to what?”
“Saving the world. Or changing it. Or both. The aura kind of takes care of everything, and it’s not my problem anymore. All’s I need is a drink and the occasional night of debauchery at the local halfling bar and I’m good. But you’re not good, right? You’re a pooboy named Worstley living in the most wretched earldom in Pell. Time to move on, don’t you think? Find your destiny, get some songs written about you. Do something worth singing about.”
Staph turned to go, and Worstley yelped and reached out a hand, although he chickened out of actually touching her. They were short on soap around the farm, after all.
“Wait, that’s it? I mean, what have I been chosen to do?”
“Gadzooks, boy. Or zounds. I don’t know which is more appropriate in this case, and I get them mixed up.”
“Me, too,” Worstley admitted.
“But I do know one thing: you gotta figure out your destiny your own dang self.”
“But I’m really new to all this. Don’t you have a suggestion about where to begin?”
The pixie shrugged, scratched idly at her belly, and pointed vaguely to the southeast. “If you amble along that way a while on the road to Tenebruss, you’ll come across the earl’s tower. His castle, too, but the tower’s the thing.”
Staph blew out a frustrated sigh. “So people don’t go to the trouble of building a tower unless they want to protect something they think is valuable inside it. Odds are you’ll find some treasure in there. Either that or the patriarchal son of a nun is trying to protect the virtue of his daughter. She’ll probably be clean and boring, in which case I bet you’ll take a shine to her. Go thou, verily, forsooth, swear by your troth or something. Or just do your chores here in the muck for the rest of your life. Doesn’t tweak my tuppence either way. I’m done here.” She turned her back on Worstley, blasted him with a powerful if squeaky fart, giggled, and flew away in an unsteady looping trajectory, leaving a trail of dull glitter in her wake.
“Wow. Did that just happen?” Worstley gagged, trying to wave away the pixie’s parting gift.
“Sure did,” the billy goat said. “Say, why don’t you begin your quest to change the world by giving me something good to eat for a change. Go in the house and fetch your father’s boots. They smell delicious.”
At the sound of the goat’s voice, Worstley whipped his head around so fast that he heard something pop in his neck. “So I wasn’t imagining it. You really can talk now.”
“Boots, Pooboy. Now. Read my lips.”
“Your lips don’t match your words very well.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hilarious! But Farm Boy is not for the serious fair hearted. You must have a sense of humor that can truly appreciate Monty Python and Princess Bride. The story is a parody of every fairytale ever written involving a group of misfit humans and mythical beings questing to save a farm boy who is mostly dead. Yes, they believe he is mostly dead because they left him in an enchanted castle with a sleeping princess...are you getting the picture. I actually would have given the story a 3.5 stars, but the audio book which I actually “read” was exceptional. There are many characters this group encounters and the narrator has a unique voice for each one. The best part is the voice truly defines the characters. I found myself smiling and laughing out loud as I listened. If you decide to take this adventure with this hysterical dysfunctional group, then try the audio version because the narrator is a true entertainer by enchanting and compelling you to keep moving through their journey as if he case a spell on you. Thank you for my advanced copy.
REVIEW PROVIDED BY: Kelly NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 A Farm Boy, a Crazy Goat, a Warrior, a Bard, a Dark Lord, a Rogue and a Witch.... It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke right? But it’s not. It is the start of a grand adventure of a ragtag team of unlikely heroes. This team of misfits will face great obstacles, death defying feats, love and the value of thumbs!!! This book was a riot!! A riot of laughter, puns and gasps!! I honestly don’t know how Luke Daniels got through narrating this book. I would have been laughing to much or thinking “you want me to say what?”. But as always Luke did an amazing job of bring the characters to life. I really enjoy listening to Luke Daniels read me a story. Already looking forward to the next installment from Pell. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley & Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
I seriously didn’t want it to end. I giggled. I snorted. I gigglesnorted. I cheered, threw in a few HUZZAHs, and I winced a few times. Best author partnership of the decade. I can’t wait for the next book to come out. Thank you Kevin And Delilah for murdering those tropes.
I'm sorry - I didn't like this book at all. I'm a fan of Kevin Hearne and was excited to read this book. I was very disappointed. Some of the characters were downright revolting and I found myself almost physically ill. The story was told in a arch, sarcastic way with lots of asides and puns. I normally appreciate that - if its done subtley and well. In this book it was completely overdone and detracted from the narrative. I got what the authors were trying to do, they just didn't do it well. I appreciate the opportunity to read the book and I hope they try again - just dial it back a lot.
“Farm Boy” is the first book in a new series by Hearne and Dawson. I really wish I could say I loved this book, but honestly, it was more, I did not dislike the book, so I will settle for a like. The puns are non-stop, and humor abounds in the book. While an avid reader of fantasy, I found the humor off-putting. It’s more a case of this not being this reviewer's preferred genre. If you love humor and puns, you will undoubtedly love this book. Note: An ARC was received from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review
This book tries really, really hard to be funny, but sadly misses the mark. The characters are worse than irritating and the narrative is just boring. Can't believe this is planned to be a trilogy.
Monty Python meets every fairy tale you could imagine plus some and you've got Kill the Farm Boy. Packed full of slap stick humor, outrageous characters and fairy tale antics to the extreme! Part of me cracked up laughing and part of me was shaking my head at the outlandishness. While reading, I couldn't help but think this book would be perfect for those who love the comedy of SPACE BALLS the movie. It was just a fun, fanciful read. I received this ARC copy of Kill the Farm Boy from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine - Del Rey. This is my honest and voluntary review.
"Now look, kid. I'm here to tell you something important. The good news and the bad news is that you're the Chosen One. You have a destiny, and I'm here to bless you with it. Or curse you, whatever. Anoint you, let's say." Prepare yourself to take a second-look at damn near every fantasy trope in the book because, let me tell you, it's definitely in here. Normally I would not describe myself as a fan of satire. In the past I might have said the original is always better. This one might have changed my mind. I found myself laughing out loud all the time while reading, having not finished reacting to the last jab before they throw another, equally ridiculous one at you. This story isn't just one big satire though. It definitely holds its own with an interesting plot filled with childlike whimsy due to its serendipitous encounters and easily-navigated obstacles. The writing style makes for a journey that you can float through and be amused by. And this book is nothing if not amusing! Despite this the characters are far from immune to danger and quick turns of fate and I found myself genuinely rooting for them and their quest. This is probably because the authors created some really lovable characters, all being goofy and sweet. Inexplicably you don't hate them even when they want to kill and/or eat the other sweet and goofy characters. I hope the characters show up in the rest of the series which I am really looking forward to. This may not be the book for everyone but it is definitely the book for me!
Don't miss the fun <3
Do you enjoy fantasy that doesn't take itself too seriously? Then you must try Dawson and Hearne's Kill the Farm Boy. As they share in the acknowledgements, "it was time to make fun of white male power fantasies, the formula for which almost always involves some kid in a rural area rising to power in the empire after he loses his parents, usually because somebody comes along and tells him not to worry, he's special." And so we have a tale that involves a farm boy named Worstley (he had an older brother named Bestley); a pixie named Staph, the Dark Lord Toby, the Dread Necromancer Steve, a female warrior in a chain mail bikini named Fia (I pictured her resembling Lucy Lawless), a bard named Argabella, a talking goat named Gustave, Grinda the Sand Witch, and other amusing characters. Our brave band encounters such fearsome obstacles as hungry giants, healers who use tentacled creatures in their cures, bejeweled crabs, an alcoholic monarch, and elves with a taste for cheese. Throughout the story there are attempts at bardic magic, several swashbuckling fights, leeches (but no shrieking eels), and quite a few leather boots are consumed. If you are looking for epic fantasy and noble destinies, this is not the book for you. But you should come back when you feel the need for laughter, eye rolling, and poking fun at just about every fantasy trope there is. This is also the perfect book for anyone having a bad day who needs some cheering up. What could be more uplifting than a rogue who is convinced chickens are plotting against her, or a magician with a taste for artisanal crackers? Highly recommended for YA and adult readers. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
If you take your favorite fairy tale and mix in some slightly off character tropes, unusual food choices, and really bad puns-you still wouldn't come close to describing this book. Kill the Farm Boy is a hilarious and fast paced take on slightly off-kilter fairy tale retellings. Worstley has the worst job on the farm: he's the pooboy. At least, that's what the animals think of him. But Worstley's fortune changes drastically when a pixie named Staph tells him of his status as the destined Chosen One who must go save the princess who is cursed with a sleeping spell at the very top of a tall tower in a land far away...This would have all been far more impressive had the Pixie not been drunk, haggard, and only wearing one sock but the Pixie Staph demonstrates her power by giving Worstely's billy goat, Gustave, the ability of speech. Unfortunately the goat has some major attitude and a huge hankering for leather. This sets off a hilarious tale of a rag tag group of warriors, fuzzy bunnies, and a wizard whose magic is as weak as his scraggly beard. We have Argabella, cursed to remain awake at the castle while everyone else is sleeping away for years. Oh, and she was also turned in to an incredibly large rabbit. She is somewhat saved by Fia, a giantess warrior who sees nothing wrong with her chain mail bikini and has a blood thirsty sword. Together, they set off to Lord Toby to help right a horrible wrong only to find an incompetent wizard who is better at planning dinner parties than a spell. With the "help" of his rogue assassin Poltro who can be scary when she isn't hiding from evil chickens, they set off to find the Chosen One and Grinda the Sand Witch. Full of puns, witty banter, and a colorful cast of supporting characters, this book is laugh out loud hilarious. No fairy tale is safe from mockery and no character too precious to be made fun of. Mercilessly. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars Strap yourself in, make sure your sense of humor is safely nestled in the crook of your arm, this nonstop ride is about to leave the station without nary a rest stop in between, which may or may not be necessary, depending on how well you can hold your puns. Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Ahearne are running an author tag team with satire fantasy and the quips are flowing like a chocolate fountain at the All-You-Can-Eat buffet. KILL THE FARM BOY leaves no stone unturned when it comes to tongue-in-cheek, off-the-wall storytelling and it all began with a quest…but so does every fantasy. And that where this one veers far off the beaten path… Loads of laughs, tons of fun and with a cast of the most unlikely heroes and villains ever, the land of Pell makes an hour in the Funhouse mirror maze seem absolutely dull. That said, perhaps best read in doses to avoid “quirk” overload, this tale sometimes gets to be juuuuusssst a little too much, too often and loses that “riding the edge” of hilarity and entertainment feel! I received a complimentary ARC edition from Del Ray!
If you like a seriously romantic book with beautiful pixies named Butter Blossom or Sweet Rose, this is not the book for you. If you like satire, off color jokes and a pixie named Staph, you should read Kill The Farm Boy. Yes, there's a farm boy and a goat named Gustave. You will find some of this story reminds you of other stories I thought it was hilarious. I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review.
Kill The Farm Boy (The Tales of Pell, #1) July 17 2018 by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne I love the premise of the book, and the humour just made me giggle throughout the book. I love the idea that you don’t always have to have Tolkin’s formula for the regular adventure book. I found Gustave hilarious and his reactions were classic Terry Pratchett. If i was in contact with the bloke that started me on Pratchett i would be sending this book to him.. Cause he showed me a new world of reading would love to show him that it continues. Thank your Kevin and Delilah for bringing to life that coffee delayed idea.. I am enthralled. I would love to me the Dread Steve, just because he sounded so much like a the creep you have got to know just to hate him more. I hope this book leads to more just like it.
FANTASTIC! This book had me laughing, giggle-snorting and just downright enjoying. If you took Shrek, Monty Python and Fractured Fairytales added copious amounts of alcohol and shook well this is what would have spewed out. Many fantastic stories start with what if… The authors of Kill The Farm Boy started with what if instead of… and nailed each trope to the wall and remade it into a whole new image. No blonde haired, blue eyed, square jawed perfect hero in this tale; well okay there is one but… If you are out for a good time, quirky characters, action, adventure, and a not-quite-dead wanna be hero, read this book. Warning: You will laugh out loud possibly annoying neighbors and may accidentally douche your nose if you drink and read at the same time. You have been warned.