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A scheming demon sword and a wannabe knight band together on a (possibly wicked) quest in this fantasy, perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett.

For the past two hundred years, the demon sword Asperides has led a quiet life. While his physical form has been tasked with guarding the body of an evil sorcerer, the rest of his consciousness has taken a well-earned vacation. That constant need to trick humans into wielding him (at the price of their very souls, of course) was rather draining.

Nack Furnival, on the other hand, is far from satisfied with his existence. Nack has trained since birth to be a brave and noble knight—but, unfortunately, he isn’t especially good at it. Determined to prove his worth, Nack needs a quest. And to complete that quest, he’ll need the one thing no knight can do without: a sword.

When an attempt to resurrect the evil sorcerer throws Asperides into Nack’s path, the demon sword can’t help but trick the boy into making a contract to become his new owner. And with the newly undead (and very, very angry) sorcerer on their trail, Asperides and Nack find themselves swept up in a bigger adventure than either of them bargained for: saving the world.

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Meet the Author
Sarah Jean Horwitz headshot

Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Review quotes
★ "The rollicking story is endlessly inventive and terrifically funny, and the chatty text is suffused with sarcasm and silliness, though kindness beats at the heart of it all…. Fantasy fans will adore the hilarious but incredibly heartfelt adventure."

— Booklist, starred review
★ "Horwitz’s middle-grade fantasy is quirky and fun but also nuanced and complex. Chapters shift in point of view as the narrative threads are woven together with masterful dexterity. Readers are clued in before the characters, and the journeys to their various places of self-discovery are wholly enjoyable. Asperides is delightful, imbued with hilarious snark and a gray moral compass…. An exciting and well-wrought romp."
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Employing thoughtful subversions of classic fantasy tropes to explore themes of good vs. evil and the power of change, Horwitz (The Dark Lord Clementine) crafts a clever adventure that is at once humorous, thrilling, and touching."
— Publishers Weekly
Praise for The Dark Lord Clementine:
“A hilariously heartwarming magical adventure . . . Clementine [is] a remarkably three-dimensional character. Her imperfections, many failures and constant letdowns make her likable and relatable. Her ridiculous antics…will charm and delight young readers. . . The Dark Lord Clementine is infused with humor and adventure, but the foundation of the story—friendship, loyalty and compassion—never wavers. . . This clever, inventive novel knows the value of a good-versus-evil story that is served fresh, yet familiar.”
— The New York Times Book Review
"Chock-full of the cheerfully macabre . . . This quirky novel stands out from the crowd in its hilarity and its compelling premise; give it to readers who like villains who aren’t, really."
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Horwitz has created a perfect blend of wit and heart in this fresh fantasy adventure . . . Highly recommended, this title will keep a wide variety of readers entertained with its compelling characters and witty twists on the fairy-tale universe."
— School Library Journal
"Horwitz primes readers to expect the unexpected—and delivers. . . .Horwitz’s ingenuity for bizarre enchantment and characterization proves boundless . . . In a wry, satisfying ending, Clementine hints at future enchantments ahead.”
— Publishers Weekly
“The castle is full of sorcery and cleverly devised magical objects, and the legends about the mountains surrounding it give Horwitz’s imagined world a unique history. The story has plenty of heart and charm. Themes of trust, forgiveness, and belonging deepen this enjoyable fantasy.”
— The Horn Book
“The descriptions of magical beings are fittingly awe-inspiring. . . This inventive fantasy twists conventions while involving readers through good storytelling laced with irony and wit."
— Booklist
“After luring readers in with wordplay and tongue-in-cheek, genre-savvy humor, the plot takes an emotionally rich thematic turn, dwelling on community and forgiveness—all the while building toward a mythical, mystical arc involving the unicorn. The few action sequences are mined for utmost impact, as are the slice-of-life scenes and flashback vignettes. . . Absolutely delightful.”
— Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
Age range
9 - 12
Grade range
4 - 7
Number of pages
Publication date
July 11, 2023