Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Series: The Great Devil Wars, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, European Literature, Danish Literature
Lucifer stared at him for some time. Then he leaned forward and hissed. “You’re evil, Philip. You’re no angel. On the contrary. You are so thoroughly, disgustingly evil that it’s way beyond my ability to comprehend! Do you hear me?” He pointed at Philip with a finger trembling with rage. “You’re evil and mean. To me.” (Ch. 26)
A friend introduced me to this series, and boy am I happy she did. I went into this read thinking it was going to be a fun story about Philip, a really good boy, being accidentally taken in as the Devil’s heir. I expected to get a look into how this world’s Underworld looked like and how the devils interacted with each other. I even expected there to be a budding friendship between the Devil and Philip. While that’s certainly an apt description of this read, it doesn’t encompass how truly entertaining of a read this was.
Anderson managed to create a complex, multi-layered Afterlife in which an exceptionally good boy lives up to his potential and all but saves the Underworld. He introduced to me characters that I both loved and loved to hate – two sides of the same (under)world that I can’t wait to continue on with. He even introduced a rather unique take on the whole life after death thing that I’m excited to read more about.
While the book has a satisfying conclusion and could be read as a standalone, I’m glad that it’s actually a series. To me, one of the defining features of a great first novel in a series is giving it the power to stand on its own while also creating openings for the story to continue. Anderson did this amazingly.
On top of that, Anderson’s writing style is one that I find myself sinking into naturally. It had a really nice flow to it and had me laughing out loud at times. In public. I’m sure there was someone on the bus with me that thought I was strange for staring at my phone and laughing… but it was worth it. And yet the serious moments had my smile slipping from my face, reading intently to see where things would go. Yup, Anderson’s writing did a wonderful job of pulling my (and my emotions) along for a very enjoyable ride.
If you’re looking for a fun read that deals with the Underworld, I highly recommend giving The Devil’s Apprentice a try. While reading about a thirteen year old boy experiencing the Afterlife might not be your ideal of a fantastic read, I can only say that you need to give this book a try. Philip’s youth and naiveté gives this story a fresh take that a lot of stories I’ve read about the Afterlife/Underworld don’t have. Reading about the afterlife from a younger perspective truly makes this read a unique one and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The first moment that I thought I might really like this read was the first moment that Philip met Lucifax. I knew that there had to be something special about that cat in a tree even before we’re told that he smelled like sulfur. When he thanks Philip for helping him out of the tree I knew that this cat was going to be an interesting part of the story. I’m so happy that I was right.
I also really enjoyed the fact that Death was the one driving the car that took Philip’s life. It was a really creative plot point, and one whose weight isn’t truly felt until the end of the story. At the beginning I just figured that everyone saw Death in their last moments, even after hearing that Lucifer made a deal with him to get Sam down to Hell. I figured that Death just inhabited the body of the person closest to you at your death – or you could just see him when you were close to death and those around you couldn’t. To learn that he was there because of the deal that Philip made with him was brilliant.
My favourite twist/plot point in this novel was definitely Philip promising Death 2 seconds of his life. Philip thought that it was a weird request since he was already dead but when it clicked for me I was so pumped to see it play out on the page. Giving Philip a quasi near death experience – to have him be dead for exactly 2 seconds of living time – was just *insert chef’s kiss here*. Having Philip be brought to life by… well, Life… after those two seconds was pretty darn smart writing.
And that’s without mentioning Lucifer’s rabbit’s foot being the lucky item that helped save Philip’s life. A great treasure to remind him that what happened in Hell actually went down on top of being able to bring Philip some actual luck in his life. I can already see Philip checking on the rabbit’s foot whenever he starts to doubt his adventures in Hell, using it – and his mini horn bumps – as an anchor to his past that he can’t tell anyone about.
I also enjoyed how many friends that Philip was able to make in Hell. Of course his first friend is Grumblebeard and what a good friend the gatekeeper is. Whether it’s offering Philip a listening ear or a fresh cup of blood, Grumblebeard was there whenever Philip needed him. Especially when Philip needed him. Sure Hell might be filled with devils, but even devils are able to make lasting relationships. Of course, that might just be Philip’s “bad” influence, but if they have love in Hell then they must also have friendships. Even before Philip showed up and put a word to these interactions.
Of course, I love that Philip got a best friend in Satina. She might very well be his first ever best friend as she was the first person that he was willing to do something a little bit bad for. Sure there were some romantic feelings in there, but you can’t have a good and healthy relationship with someone if you’re not also their friend. Heck, with Satina, Philip was able to continue to do bad things even after his rage and jealousy had disappeared. Putting that thumbtack on Lucifer’s seat was a great way to break the levity of the scene as well as prove that Philip had learned a little something during his time in Hell. Thankfully, with Satina as his partner in crime, Philip is certain to get up to more mischief in the future.
This wouldn’t have been a good novel without a truly wicked villain – it did take place in Hell, after all – and for that Aziel and his mother were perfect. By being willing to poison the Devil himself to get what they wanted, they proved how truly wicked they were. Even Lucifer wouldn’t have done something as twisted as that. Even if they were sent to the Outer Reach, I can see the two of them causing problems in the rest of the series. While the son was willing to murder the Devil to get what he wanted, the mother was willing to do anything it took to give her son the life she thought he deserved. A mother like that isn’t going to let banishment get in the way of her goals.
Then there’s the fact that Lucifer and Lucifax almost made the assassination attempt work by destroying Philip’s ability to care about what happened to Lucifer. If Philip hadn’t have caught onto Lucifax’s trick when he did, Lucifer would have been dead and Hell would have been a truly awful place. There’s no way that Lucifax would have been able to keep up the ruse for all eternity, so eventually a really good boy was going to be the ruler of the place. Well, at least a good one. I’m sure that Lucifax would have been able to keep it up long enough to ensure Philip wasn’t able to revert back as far as he did, but it wouldn’t have been a good time for Hell. Someone can only fake being evil for so long – even if they are fueled by hate and rage. That wasn’t who Philip really was and I’m glad to see he didn’t stick with the devil persona for too long.
I look forward to seeing what the rest of the series has in store for the gang. With a series name like The Devil Wars, I’m looking forward to things getting even bigger and badder. Here’s hoping that the rest of the series holds up to such a fantastic first read.
Hello! And congrats on reading until the end of this post. Since you’ve made it this far, you either don’t mind spoilers or have also read The Devil’s Apprentice. I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I did. Even if you didn’t, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this read. What were some of the moments that you found memorable? Did you have a favourite moment of this read? On the flip side, were there any moments that you didn’t enjoy as much? I’d love to hear your take on the book as every reader takes something different from the things they read.
If you’ve read on past the first book in the series, I hope you enjoyed the journey and will stick along with me as I continue along with Philip and his friends.
Other reviews from this series: