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Title: The Dark Lord Clementine
Author: Sarah Jean Horwitz
Published: 20th of April 2021 – Algonquin Young Readers
Format: Digital (eARC) – 336 pages
“She was afraid of what would happen to her life as it was now, crushingly exhausting as it was, because for the first time, it was a life she had built for herself – a tiny, delicate rose she had somehow coaxed into growing out of the darkness.” – The Dark Lord Clementine
Hello Hello! How are you?
Today I am thrilled to be bringing you my review for The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz that I got the opportunity to read for the Algonquin Young Readers blog tour.
You know that I love middle-grade books and I always get the best emails from Algonquin Young Readers with their new books, so I was so glad to get this one and I’m so glad I decided to read it.
Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers and the author for letting me be part of this tour and to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The new face of big evil is a little . . . small.
Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day her father is cursed by a mysterious rival.
Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. But when it’s time for her to perform dastardly deeds against the townspeople—including her brand-new friends—she begins to question her father’s code of good and evil. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be a dark lord after all?
Trigger warnings: illness, poisoning, death, blood, gore, fire, avalanche, revenge, grief, complicated family relationships.
The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz is a middle-grade fantasy standalone that I absolutely loved. We meet our main character, Clementine Morcerous, as something bad is happening to her father, and she doesn’t know what to do to help him.
The magic in the farm is starting to change, and she knows she has to step up to the job of Dark Lord but does she really want to? And is she capable of all the Dastardly Deeds that she needs to do to keep the Evil Lordship of the Seven Sisters?
This book is set in an imaginary world and Clementine lives in the Seven Sisters, seven mountains where the Morcerous castle, Castle Brack is built. I loved Castle Brack and I thought that the whole setting was done so well. There is some really good world-building in this book and the way everything was described completely drew me into the book and kept me reading it, turning the pages as fast as I could.
I also liked the little bit we got to see of the village that lives under Castle Brack. We only saw it very quickly a few times, but I liked the contrast between the village and the Castle.
The forest where Clementine has to go a few times was really gloomy and I found it quite eerie, to be honest, but there are also some interesting things, or should I say people, there that I liked reading about.
And finally, I adored seeing other little parts of Castle Brack, especially the farm and Clementine’s little garden. I thought the setting was really well-executed, I could picture everything and it just made the reading experience even better.
Clementine: Clementine is the main character in this book and right from page one, I loved her. She is very strong-willed but also has to battle with what is right (what her father thinks is right) and what she wants. I really liked seeing her grow. She goes from something with little will to someone who is brave, courageous, does what she needs and wants and I just loved seeing the character arc evolve.
The Dark Lord Morcerous: We don’t get to see much of the Dark Lord Morcerous, aka Clementine’s father, but what we did see actually made me laugh. I won’t say more, but you are in for a surprise.
Darka: Darka is another character we get to see progressively more of as the book goes on and she really grew on me. I didn’t know what to think at first and she kind of lulled me into a false sense of security, but I really liked how she evolved too, learning about her and her past, seeing her go through her feelings of grief and revenge.
The Whittle Witch: I also can’t say much about this character, but she is important in the plot and I would have liked to see more of her if I’m honest, but she was definitely a horrible person.
Sebastian and the Boys: These are some characters that I actually liked and they also grew on me quickly. I liked Sebastian the most and I thought that his friendship and relationship with Clementine is really cute and sweet. I also would have liked to have seen more of these boys, but what I did see, I enjoyed and they definitely did what was right when they were needed.
The black sheep: And the final character that I want to mention is one that also surprised me, made me laugh, and I liked him a lot. I honestly can’t say more, but he is fluffy and cute. That’s all, ahah.
Evil Lordship – following in your family’s footsteps, or not? This is a topic that I’ve been reading about more lately, and I think that in this book, it was really well handled. I think every child has to go through the struggle of finding what they want to do in life, and for a lot of us, our family’s wishes can often put a lot of pressure on us. I found the way that Clementine thought about the Evil Lordship, and the Lordship itself was funny and I liked where it went. Clementine is a strong character and I loved to see her blossom and become her true self.
Friendship: There is definitely quite a strong emphasis on friendship in this book since when it starts, Clementine doesn’t have any friends. Her father has always tried to “protect” her and she has led a somewhat sheltered life, but when she meets the boys and the black sheep, she strikes up a friendship with them that I loved to read about. I also liked her relationship with Darka and each friendship helped Clementine see who she really was and wanted to be.
Magic: And finally, it wouldn’t be a fantasy story without a touch of magic. This is a theme we don’t get to see much of, which is a shame because I loved what I saw. This book touches on a few different types of magic which were really interesting to read about. I hope this isn’t actually a standalone, because I do want to know more.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this book was such a fun book to read. It was also quite emotional at times, it had some great quotes and important messages and I think it was just really well handled. I really enjoyed reading it and I’m so glad I decided to give it a go.
The writing style was very fluid, very easy to read, but also beautiful. As I said, there were some great quotes and it’s the kind of book that has some stunning sentences that forces you to stop and read them again to take them in. I think this author has a lot of promise and I will definitely read more from them. The pacing also flowed well, I would have liked it to maybe be a little bit slower so I could have more time with these characters and in this world and to see the friendships evolve, but it was still a nice pace that went hand in hand with a really enjoyable plot. I also loved how it ended and I really hope we get more adventures with Clementine.
I gave this book 4.5 stars (full ASPECTS rating below) and it was a great reading experience. It was just missing that tiny little spark for me to give it 5 stars, but I know now that I love this author’s writing style and that I will pick up more from them.
If you love middle-grade stories with characters that evolve and become even more complex as the book goes on, a really unique and fun plot, a great writing style, some wit and some magic, then this is the book for you!
Thank you once again to the publisher and author, this was a fantastic experience and I’m very grateful to have been given the chance to read it.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,
“It was not a flower to be picked or a horse to be ridden or even a fellow sorcerer to be bargained with. It was power and magic. It was older than the souls of the mountains. It simply was.” – The Dark Lord Clementine
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – SARAH JEAN HORWITZ
Sarah Jean Horwitz grew up next door to a cemetery and down the street from an abandoned fairy-tale theme park, which probably explains a lot. She currently lives near Boston, MA.
Atmosphere – 7
Start – 7
Pacing – 6.5
Ending – 8
Characters – 7.5
Theme – 7
Style – 8
Total = 51
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