Book Review – The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

Dark Lord of Derkholm

The Dark Lord of Derkholm is a 1998 young adult fantasy novel by author Diana Wynne Jones. Once a year, a magical fantasy land receives guests from another world. These guests, whom visit as Pilgrim Parties under the organization of a ruthless businessman named Mr. Chesney, embark upon this journey to experience a real-life fantasy adventure, complete with dragons, battles between the forces of good and evil, and even a Dark Lord to vanquish at the end of their hard-fought quest. However, after years of suffering the devastating consequences, the people of this fantasy land have had enough. Maybe, if they completely sabotage this year’s tours, nobody will ever want to visit again. To do so, they’ll have to appoint the worst wizard for the job of Dark Lord. Unfortunately for Derk and his family, that’s him.

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WWW Wednesday – September 21, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

A Carnival of SnackerySince last week I managed to get a modest start on A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris. So far I’ve read all the included entries for the year 2003, though that’s only about 25 pages. It really does make for some nice, easy reading, as each diary entry isn’t especially long and they can be fairly self-contained. There have been a few mentions of the Iraq War and references to tension between the U.S. and France related to it. I was 12 at the time, so I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to the fact that apparently France and the U.S. were sniping at each other at the time because they didn’t agree over the war or something? Was this the reason for that “freedom fries” thing?

Pet SemataryI’ve also started reading Pet Sematary by Stephen King, though I’m only about 25 pages into that novel as well. I’m enjoying the personal relationships the story is building so far; King has a way with highlighting personal, internal things that are honest but you would perhaps never say out loud. The narrative expressing that Jud is the man who should have been Louis’s father, for instance, communicating how close their friendship will become, is so resonant. It feels like something you might be embarrassed to actually say, but it is nevertheless a reflection of the truth. It has also occurred to me that I know the general idea of what this book is about, and I even saw the most recent film adaptation of it, but I really don’t know what the bulk of the actual novel entails. I look forward to learning how it all unfolds.


Recently Finished

Dark Lord of DerkholmAfter far too long in the midst of it, I have finally finished reading The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. Somewhat off-putting, I realized when I finished it that my copy has “the” at the front of the title, but on Goodreads it doesn’t. Why did this website gaslight be into thinking I had been writing the title wrong? Very bizarre. Even the cover image they use is identical, but no “the” above the D like my copy has. At any rate, I liked this novel overall, but it was a lot more lacking in plot than I was hoping. It had really strong characters, but it felt mostly like a lot of hectic stuff went down and then somehow everything wrapped up fairly neatly by the end. I couldn’t help feeling a little let down by the end. I will hopefully have a review up before next week.


Reading Next

I’ve finally been able to start some new things, so I don’t really have anything new planned to tell you about here. I do want to try and cram in a lot of spooky reads though, with October just around the corner. We

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – September 14, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Regrettably, despite what I said last week, I’ve actually made no progress on Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. Though work has been a little lighter over the past week, other obligations have made it so I’ve been able to squeeze in very little reading time.


Recently Finished

PaperGirlsVol1Despite the limited reading time, however, I was able to squeeze in an hour or so this morning to get the first volume of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn et al. finished. Though the plot, such as it was, felt a little hectic by the nature of what the main characters are exposed to this bizarre All Saints Day morn, I’m more than hooked on the story and look forward to seeing where things go next. We’ve seen a glimpse of forces at play who seem to use time travel to their own selfish ends, and I’m eager to see their natures expanded upon and with whom the characters will align. The core group is fairly well characterized too, so I expect I’ll continue to enjoy this even if they’re just trying to survive in reaction to the forces around them, rather than getting more actively involved.


Reading Next

Paper Girls 2I’ve got plenty of things lined up here now, don’t I? I still want to start A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris soon. Won’t be long now, that’s for sure. I’m also planning to start Pet Sematary by Stephen King soon. I’m hoping I can finish that book a lot faster than Dark Lord of Derkholm. I do not know what it is with this book, but I have just been the worst at actually reading it, which is weird because I’m enjoying it a lot. Nevertheless, I’ve been reading it since July; this amount of time on one book is really bad, even for me and my below-average pace. Lastly, since I’m properly getting into it now and I have a couple more volumes, I’m going to read volume two of Paper Girls soon too. Hopefully I get to it more promptly.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – September 7, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Dark Lord of DerkholmI feel like I’m coming up on the final stretch of Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. In fact, I’m fairly confident that if I hadn’t been more swamped with work than normal over the past week or so, I would have had it finished by now. So it goes. I’ve reached a seemingly perfect point of suspense, as Blade has had his Pilgrim Party campaign go horribly awry so far and now they’ve all up and disappeared. We’ve also gotten a bit of a better look at the plan in action regarding trying to get the tours canceled for good, though I’m sure the linchpin will come down to Derk and Blade. I’m hoping that by next week I’ll be talking about this book in past tense, enjoyment aside. Fingers crossed!

PaperGirlsVol1I finally started reading the first volume of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn et al., though I’m disappointed that that’s all I was able to manage. Like I said though, I’ve been a bit swamped. I finished the first chapter/issue of the volume, which was a nicely effective introduction to the characters and they’re surprisingly quickly escalating situation. I was particularly impressed, oddly, but the suspenseful last panel, which has these girls in the 1980s finding a device with a modern Apple logo on it. It’s simple, yet I really liked this small mundane hint of time travel and how it demonstrates how much tech advances in a relatively short amount of time.


Recently Finished

Nothing once again, even after being absent last week. Things have just been so tiresome lately.


Reading Next

Pet SemataryI’d still like to start reading A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris soon, but with it already being September and my reading going at a snail’s pace, I think I’m going to start reading one of the spooky books from my to-read list for the year. For the moment, I think it shall by Pet Sematary by Stephen King. Something easy and hopefully breezy, to help pick up the pace. It seems that the Comixology app has been fixed a bit too, at least as a digital reader (sans storefront), so maybe I’ll dig back into my digital comics soon too.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – August 24, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Dark Lord of DerkholmI’ve made more decent progress in Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones again this week, though not nearly as much as I probably should have. I had more incidental free time than I had been planning this weekend, but I just didn’t end up dedicating a lot of it to reading. With editing work requiring so much reading on its own, it really is harder to motivate myself to read for fun. I’m still enjoying the book a lot, and it looks like a proper shift in the story is coming. Derk had to play Dark Lord for his first batch of pilgrims, who actually seemed to be outsiders bent on exposing the whole scheme from the other side, and his son Blade has gone off to lead his own Pilgrim Party, so I’m hoping things will become all the more substantive from here on out.


Recently Finished

Yet again, I have failed. I’m not in the best state of mind as of late, however, so I hope you can forgive my more barren posts this last little bit.


Reading Next

PaperGirlsVol1I still want to start reading A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris soon, though I think I will have to make a more concentrated effort to read it at home, as it is a bit to big to be lugging to my typical reading haunt. I have a harder time getting myself to read at home, though, so I will have to figure things out. I still want to start Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn et al. too, I’ve just continued to neglect it. Maybe I will turn that around this week; I certainly guilt myself about not starting it enough. If I’m going to keep thinking about it, I might as well actually start it.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – August 17, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Dark Lord of DerkholmI’m still tootling along in Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones; there’s a lot left, but I made some decent yet modest progress over the weekend all the same. The story has outdone itself in terms of surprising me with its darker elements, though I won’t get into exactly what happens. I thought it was handled with fairly deft tact though, I just hope it isn’t completely swept under the rug going forward. The endeavour to march these dark soldiers across the land still hasn’t quite wrapped up yet, so I’ve yet to get the further momentum I was hoping for in the story. I’m only a little over halfway through, however, so I’m still invested. It seems the plot to end the tours has progressed a little too, though I hope it doesn’t all come down to a breach of contract on the part of the true villain.


Recently Finished

Once again, I have failed to read Paper Girls or anything else.


Reading Next

A Carnival of SnackeryLike I’ve been saying repeatedly, I’m going to start reading Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn et al. soon, but I’ve been saying that for a couple of weeks now, so who can say how soon that will really be. At the moment, I’ve decided that the next book I want to start reading is Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris. It’s not on my yearly to-read list, but I’m hoping it can make for another decent supplemental read. Those usually don’t work out great for me, but I feel like I need to try and have more than one book on the go at a time anyway. I’ve been waiting a while for the sequel to Theft by Finding too, so it’s time I finally started it.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – August 10, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Dark Lord of DerkholmI’ve made some decent progress in Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones this past week, though it had to share attention with a few other things. I’m still really enjoying the story; managing these tours has become a proper nightmare for Derk’s family and they haven’t even had to deal with any pilgrims yet. Factors are being introduced that complicate things further, and I’m still wondering if this will turn into a phenomenal blunder or if this is a villain’s origin story. It’s exciting not to know, though I would like a bit more momentum in the story soon. I’ve continued to be surprised by of the ideas this book is exploring too, such as the fact that the world where the tourists come from frequently sends its prisoners to play soldiers in the Dark Lord’s evil army as a means to deal with its “violent criminals”, which carries with it a lot of unsettling implications considering how many tours this fantasy land seems to host on a regular basis.


Recently Finished

The Dictionary of Obscure SorrowsOver the weekend I pushed myself to finish reading The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig, which I enjoyed quite a lot. In typical fashion with my “supplemental reads”, I had to just blitz the rest of it to finally be done with it. So it goes. Reading so much of it at once actually made me a little melancholic, which I probably could have expected. It’s not about obscure delights, after all. I’m happy I was able to post a review of this book so quickly afterwards, albeit more of an informal one since it’s the sort of book that feels less my forte. In my review, I shared some words that stuck out to me, as I’ve been doing on these posts. I’ve liked doing that, and since this is the last one, I thought I’d share just one more.

This week’s word is vellichor, “the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured. From vellum, parchment + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of gods in Ancient Greek mythology. Pronounced ‘vel-uh-kawr.'”


Reading Next

I’ve not really cemented any further plans about what I’ll be reading next as of yet, other than getting a start on Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn et al., which I still plan on doing.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – August 3, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Dictionary of Obscure SorrowsHere I am again after a week off! Getting this up pretty late again, though, but still happy to be here. I went on a camping trip last week, so I wasn’t able to post. I tried to get some reading done, but as is common for me on trips I did not manage to read all that much. I did make a little bit of progress in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig, but only about 10 or so pages. This week’s word is allope, “a mysterious aura of loneliness you feel in certain places; the palpable weight of all the lonely people secretly holed up in their houses and apartments, with a flickering blue glow cast up on their walls—so many of whom might just want someone to talk to, or just want to feel needed, and could be that for each other if only they could somehow connect.” Short for “All the lonely people,” from the song “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles. Pronounced “al-uh-pee.”

Dark Lord of DerkholmI’ve also made some progress in Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. This book really does continue to throw me for a loop, as yet another thing has happened that I really wasn’t expecting, dealing potentially permanent physical harm to Derk, who will be playing the Dark Lord of their world soon. It seems to be taking things in a direction I was speculating on though, as pain and disfigurement may very well put him on that path of becoming an actual Dark Lord, rather than just playing one for tourists. Whenever I happen to have the time, I really need to dig into this book properly and get a proper long reading session in. The tone surprisingly fluctuates in this book too, as part of me feels like it’s written for a younger audience, yet at times Jones doesn’t really restrain herself with some of the grisly details, while still refraining from being too graphic. Perhaps she just gives her audience a lot of credit.


Recently Finished

Nothing in the past two weeks, regrettably.


Reading Next

PaperGirlsVol1I’ve still not fully made up my mind on what novel/book I’ll want to start up next, but I have decided what comic books I’d like to start cracking open. I’ve had several volumes of Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn for a while now, and the release of the TV series adaptation has oddly spurred me into wanting to start reading them finally.  I don’t actually remember a lot of what this series is supposed to be about, other than the 1980s and time travel, but I hear so many good things about Vaughn’s work that I’m confident I will be more into it than I was with Animosity.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – July 20, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Dictionary of Obscure SorrowsUnfortunately, I’ve not made any further progress in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig since last week. I do however have another word saved that I can share, for what its worth, since I’m enjoying sharing some of those here. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. The word this week is lockheartedness, “the atmosphere of camaraderie when people are stuck together in a certain place—a stalled elevator, a shelter during a storm, the sleeper car of a train—which leaves them no other option but to be present with each other, with nowhere else to go, and nobody else to be.” (From locked up + fullheartedness.)

Dark Lord of DerkholmI’ve made progress in Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones, though only about 20–30 pages. They’re still preparing their world for the arrival of the pilgrim tours, and poor Wizard Derk is under an incredible amount of stress. I really feel for the guy; he just wants to take care of his family and create new animals, not turn his entire life upside down for rich jerks who want to run roughshod over an entire world. He’s like a wholesome Shou Tucker (if you know, you know). I’m wondering if this will make him snap, and he will become a proper Dark Lord, rather than just pretending to be one. Only time will tell. I really don’t know what to expect from this, and that’s exciting on its own.


Recently Finished

The Liminal ZoneOver the weekend I read through The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito, which is the latest collection of some of his stories to be published in English. The book includes four newer stories by the artist, which were more recently published in a digital publication, so they’re longer than his typical short stories. I have weirdly mixed feelings about this collection. I’ve certainly read worse, and a couple of these have really good premises, but I just didn’t really get into reading this one. Worse yet, in the afterword Ito himself remarks about how he thinks his best ideas are behind him. It was honestly a little poignant. I’m not sure if I even want to review this one, but I’ve reviewed every other book of his I’ve purchased over the last several years, so perhaps I would be remiss if I skipped this one.


Reading Next

I’ve not fully made up my mind on what I want to read next. I’ll be on holiday next week without convenient access to a computer or the Internet, so I likely won’t have one of these posts up next week. Just a heads up.

Until next time, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.

WWW Wednesday – July 13, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and others over on her blog!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

The Dictionary of Obscure SorrowsI’ve made a little bit of progress in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig since last week, though only a bit. This week’s word is probably a relatable mood for a lot of people right now. Certainly seems to be the vibe going around, at any rate. The word is kuebiko, “a state of exhaustion inspired by senseless tragedies and acts of violence, which force you to abruptly revise your expectations of what can happen in this world, trying to prop yourself up like an old scarecrow, who’s bursting at the seams yet powerless to do anything but stand there and watch.”

Dark Lord of DerkholmI also started reading Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones since last week, and I have gotten nearly 100 pages in, which is better than I expected of me. This book is also 500 pages long, which I wasn’t expecting. Why are some paperbacks deceptively long? At any rate, I’m really enjoying the tone and premise of this story. It’s about a fantasy world beset upon by a great evil: capitalism. A business man from another world runs tours for people wishing to have a fantasy adventure, sending them to a magical land that he keeps at his beck and call thanks to the powers of a demon he has made a compact with. Naturally, the denizens of the world are terribly exploited, and the only way for them to get out of it, apparently, is if the wizard Derk plays the Dark Lord for the current year’s tours. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes, I have no idea what to expect.


Recently Finished

Animosity Vol. 2Over the weekend I also made sure to read through Animosity, Vol. 2: The Dragon by Marguerite Bennett et al. I did like this volume better than the first one, but I’m really not sure I want to continue with these books. It managed to make itself a lot more interesting when the characters were at rest, as they each puzzled over how The Wake happened in the first place and whether or not they and their fellow animals have souls, but it didn’t exactly make for a great narrative. The back of this volume actually had a collection of text entries about different states of America and the world at large, detailing events that have gone down, and I couldn’t help but wonder why in the heck that was all more interesting than the comic book itself. I won’t say never, but it’s unlikely I pick up volume three.


Reading Next

I’m really not sure what I’ll pick up next, I’m just getting into new stuff. Ought to figure out another comic to crack open.

Until next week, thank you for reading! Feel free to share your own post down below.