Demonkeeper Reviewed: Find Out What Makes Demon Keeper a Must Read

Demonkeeper has received tons of praise for its ingenuity, humor, action, suspense and a touch of scary. Its a great read for ages 9 to 99. But don’t take our word for it. Check out the following reviews to learn more.


Nat does not have a normal life. He’s an orphan. It’s been years since he stepped inside a school. And he’s a young teenager living alone in a creepy house in Seattle. But if those were the only oddities in Nat’s life, he’d be thankful. Because his house isn’t just creepy—it’s alive. African masks insult each other across the hallways. Chairs scamper around the rooms. The clawed feet of the table actually have claws—and everywhere you look, if you can see them (as Nat can), there are demons. Big demons, little demons, prankster demons and helpful demons. But the worst demon is the Beast, a big, nasty, people-eating demon locked in the basement that can never, ever, ever be allowed to escape.

Nat is their keeper, charged with preventing these creatures of chaos from wreaking havoc on the normal world. It’s a thankless job and a lonely one, and the one day Nat decides to take a break from the loneliness with Sandy, an equally lonely teenage library volunteer, all chaos breaks loose—in particular, the Beast.

Soon Nat and Sandy are racing through the streets of Seattle, trying to catch the Beast, while street children disappear, demons run amok and an eerie, evil stranger pursues them all.

Demonkeeper is a page turner, deftly combining humor and suspense with just a taste of horror. The final solution is a surprising twist, a delightfully clever bit of logic that readers won’t see coming but won’t feel cheated by either.

Don’t be put off by the title of this book; Nat’s creatures are simply embodiments of entropy—accidents, pranks and randomness personified as little monsters—more like Pokémon with a mischievous streak. Attorney-turned-author Royce Buckingham makes a conscious effort to state this distinction, and Nat is not an occultist muttering spells, he’s just a zookeeper in over his head.

Demonkeeper is a rollicking good tale with fun, appealing characters, a pleasant dash of innocent young romance and a solid heart—and the message that sometimes what a child needs more than anything is a place to call home.


A madcap chase through the streets of Seattle forms the centerpiece of this entertaining, if unpolished debut. Charged with feeding and controlling a house full of mischievous demons—embodied manifestations of Chaos—young Nat suffers a momentary lapse of attention that results in the escape of a truly malign monster who stalks and eats neglected youths. As if that’s not bad enough, Nat’s pursuit is complicated by the arrival of a more powerful Demon Keeper, gone to the bad and out to nail him. With help from aptly named Junior Assistant Librarian Sandy Nertz, chance-met skateboard-dude Richie and a trio of diminutive demonic minions straight out of Monsters, Inc., Nat ultimately does come out on top. However, the author seems unsure which of his three young folk to appoint as protagonist, and ramps up the body count and violence to the point that it’s hard to tell whether he’s trying for horror of the comic or straight sort. Still, an engaging debut with some intriguing ideas and twists. Sequels are possible but not required for closure. (Fantasy. 12-15)


Gr 4–7—Buckingham has written an enjoyable novel that is both scary and laugh-out-loud funny. Nat, the clumsy new Demonkeeper, and his three mischievous minions live in an old mansion filled with animate objects—lamps, quilts, and even the porch move. When local boys accidentally release the Beast that Nat is responsible for keeping captive, the teen works with a mousy library assistant and a tough street kid to find and stop the orphan-eating demon and the Thin Man who is trying to take charge of it. While the characters are mostly teenagers, the book is definitely for a younger audience. The story, set in Seattle, is fantastical, but with very current and realistic characters. Fast-paced and full of action and suspense, this wacky novel is a good choice for reluctant readers.—Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA

“Demonkeeper,” by Royce Buckingham

Parents everywhere involuntarily shudder at the thought of such authors as R.L. Stine or Christopher Pike, whose tales of horror bridge the years between childhood and the teen years. Now they have another author to add to the list.

Royce Buckingham’s debut novel for young adults automatically hooks the reader. The book is packed with humor reminiscent of “Good Omens,” a comedy about the apocalypse by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett where the antichrist is a young boy and Pollution is a modern member of the four horsemen. Similar laughs are intertwined with horror in these fast-moving pages as Buckingham weaves the story of young Nathaniel, an orphaned demonkeeper.

Nat has one of the worst jobs in the world. No one respects him. Not the various monsters that live in his ramshackle house. Not the other kids he sees when he’s out running errands. Especially not the beast that lives in the basement. Yet he plods along in a demon-filled house with no thanks and no friends.

Only one person seems to think Nat is anything more than a weird social reject. Sandy, a local girl, sees something special in him; she feels he might make her life a little more adventurous. Unfortunately, as a demonkeeper working on his own, Nat has been warned away from girls. As he grows closer to Sandy, he finds this rule difficult to obey. When a rogue demonkeeper shows up in his neighborhood, Nat has to use all of his cunning and courage to set things right in his world.

Not only is “Demonkeeper” a fast read written in concise language, but it also is interesting enough to keep almost anyone entertained.

Wendy Withers of Tampa is a freelance writer.


REBECCA YOUNG; The News Tribune

Reading about butterflies, flowers and bunny rabbits in October is just wrong somehow.

This month, kids want spiders, pumpkins and ghosts in just the right doses of fright for their ages and tastes.

The new crop of Halloweenish books should provide something for everyone – from the tween ready for a serious scare to the brand-new reader.

 • “Demonkeeper” is a thrilling, terrifying – and funny – first novel by Bellingham resident Royce Buckingham. Set in Seattle, it’s the story of Nat, a lonely boy who’s been charged with the care of an old Queen Anne Hill house full of demons since his mentor disappeared.

Mostly the demons are not dangerous, just annoying, sort of like a day care full of the worst kids in the neighborhood the morning after they all got sugared up on Halloween candy.

Three of the demons are Nat’s minions, or supposed assistants, but they can be more trouble than they’re worth. Consider Flappy, a small wind demon, who stirs up small mischief such as kite-tree collisions. If he was in the wild and grew to his full size, he would capable of downing planes and sinking ships. As is, he can make things darn messy.


DEMONKEEPER by Royce Buckingham

” ‘There’s only one copy of this in the nation,’ she said. ‘I can have it for you in three weeks.’
” ‘Great! Thank you…’
” ‘I’m Sandy. And there’s the one-dollar interlibrary loan fee.’
” ‘Right. Of course,’ Nat said. He nodded and began dumping dimes, quarters, nickels, lint, and an inspected by tag onto Sandy’s pristine desk.
“Sandy couldn’t help herself — she stacked the coins by denomination, then hurried the lint and tag to the garbage.
“Nat smiled as he watched her fuss.
“Sandy realized he was watching and looked up. Their eyes met. U Go Girl! she thought. She took a deep breath. ‘You know, you’ve been coming here for a little while, and I never see you with anyone.’
” ‘I don’t know a lot of people.’
” ‘You know me…now.’ She scribbled on his interlibrary loan receipt. ‘You could call my cell.’
” ‘Your cell?’
” ‘My phone.’
“Nat debated. He looked pained. ‘I’m not supposed to,’ he said finally.
” ‘What? Like there’s some rule against it?’
“Nat took his receipt. ‘Yes,’ he said quickly, and he fled before she could say another word.
“Sandy watched him go, sad. She didn’t know how U Go Girl! would rate her effort to adventurize, but she imagined that, because the first boy she’d gotten the courage to proposition had run away, it wouldn’t be good.”

I really enjoyed my first visit to Seattle. The Convention Center where ALA was meeting is conveniently located right in the center of the city, and the buses — which are inexpensive when heading to the outskirts and free when traveling around the city center — are all operated by friendly, helpful drivers. We stayed at a hostel which was close to the water and right around the corner from both the Pike Place Market and a nice little shop with great salt bagels. And, we had the pleasure of being taken out for lunch to a highly-acclaimed vegan restaurant: Bamboo Garden on Roy Street. The hot and sour soup there is the best I’ve ever tasted.

Just a few blocks away from the restaurant, in a massive 1901 Craftsman-style home that sits amidst a tidy Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, Nat — that skittish 15 year-old boy who was being assisted by high school sophomore and Seattle Public Library junior assistant librarian Sandra (Sandy) Nertz — lives alone. Well, not really alone. The house is filled with demons and it is his job to feed, care for, and contain them, now that his teacher, Dhaliwahl has died. It has been a challenging and often lonely first month of “keeping” the demons on his own. For heaven’s sake! He’s almost gotten himself eaten.

And Dhaliwahl’s teachings had, in fact, included instructions that Nat stay away from girls.

There are hundreds of goofy demons bouncing around Nat’s house. And then there is The Beast, a deadly, nightmarish demon being kept locked in the fortified basement who is fed through a barred feeding shoot.

Oh, and don’t forget about Nat’s own three minions: There is Pernicious, “the demonic incarnation of nasty surprises,” Nikolai, who “embodies the chaos of not knowing one’s own strength,” and Flappy, “a wind demon, the incarnation of swirling gusts — the aimless, spasmodic sort that sent children’s kites into trees.” The trio are a total blast.

But, the question is, when things start really going badly, will the minions be more help or hindrance? And what about Sandy, the resourceful teenage junior assistant librarian? Or the pair of skater dudes who break into the demon-filled house with disastrous consequences.

“Nat stomped his foot. ‘I mean it, did you receive a clear visual image of three demonic manifestations that are minionic in character?’
” ‘I saw a pint-sized dragon, a deformed evil gnome on steroids, and a retarded two-legged Chihuahua.’
” ‘So you did see them,’ Nat said.”

DEMONKEEPER by Royce Buckingham is an alternately sweet, funny, and occasionally deadly story of a lonely boy, a lonely girl, a house full of demons, a vengeful apprentice gone bad, a pair of skater dudes, and The Beast. The middle school kids are going to eat this one up with a gusto equal to that of Pernicious, Nikolai, and Flappy when they greedily dive headfirst into their cast iron trough full of fish guts.

Richie’s Picks

Haworth Public School – New Jersey
Nat is a fifteen-year-old orphan mourning the loss of his mentor, Daliwahl, and valiantly trying to maintain control over the house filled with demons he has been left to tend. He is also lonely; so when an equally lonely junior librarian named Sandy gives him her phone number, he is intrigued. Daliwahl warned him against dating, but Nat thinks that there isn’t any harm in spending one evening away from the house. In his distraction, he inadvertently leaves a window open, allowing two curious, homeless kids with mischief on their minds, access. What they don’t know is that a beast awaits. A beast who has been biding his time, looking for a weakness in the binds that hold him in the basement of the house.

Funny and suspenseful, this quick book reads like a movie. No surprise when a visit to the author’s website reveals that it has been optioned for a movie. Hm, now who would play Nat and the various demons are a CGI animator’s dream.

Curled up with a Good Kid’s Book – Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham
Ages 9-12

Don’t be surprised if a razor-sharp claw helps you turn the pages of this terrific book. According to the author, demons are all around us but prefer to stay hidden as they tease humans with harmless pranks. Unfortunately, there are other demons that need to be contained, and that’s when a skilled demonkeeper is needed.

After Nat’s parents die, Dhaliwahl, a demonkeeper living in Seattle, opens his home to the orphaned boy and teaches him the fundamentals of the proper care, feeding and keeping of demons. Dhaliwahl’s death causes Nat to go solo a lot sooner than he would like, but the teenage apprentice is willing to give it a try. It’s too bad no one has told the demons that the new kid on the block is now their authority figure. Nat quickly discovers that his hands are full, but a moment of carelessness leaves the basement empty. Releasing the Beast was definitely a bad thing to do, but not capturing the crazy critter is going to be a whole lot worse.

Written with a unique blend of funny and fearsome, this novel stomps, slithers and soars with a creative cast of characters. Nat’s spooky house literally comes alive in every nook and cranny as the demons make their appearances at odd times and with surprising results. The author’s wit, both wacky and wonderful, causes the pages to jiggle with giggles. The humor evokes vibrant mental images of demons straddling the fence of scary and silly.

There is also a serious side as the Beast is unleashed on an unsuspecting city. Although Nat’s confidence is shaken, he finds a way to handle the situation with a little help from his friends. The conclusion leaves readers with a likable hero and a genuine hope to see this Demonkeeper in future stories.
Joyce Handzo/2007 for curled up with a good kid’s book

Magic Tree Bookstore (Chicago area)
Demonkeeper is a delightful read. The demons that Nat has mastered, add just the right touch of comic relief and interest. It is full of twist and turns with lots of humor throughout the story. A well-woven story that made me want more. I truly look forward to a sequel.


Demon Keeper – Royce Buckingham

Nat has a very special ability; he is one of a very few individuals who can actually see demons. Of course most of the demons aren’t made up of pure evil; they are simply very mischievous. Orphaned at the age of 12, Nat was rescued from the foster system by his demon keeper mentor, Dhaliwahl. Dhaliwahl trained Nat in the art of keeping demons and keeping humans safe from demons. Demons are meant to be kept, not destroyed! But now Dhalwahl has disappeared and it’s up to Nat and his minions (isn’t it great to be able to use the word minion in the literal sense?) to rescue the world from the worst demon of all, the Beast, which has managed to escape from the basement of Nat’s demon house.

Nat gets helps along the way from his potential love interest/junior assistant librarian, Sandy, and a runaway named Richie. Boys will really love the crazy antics of the gross and ridiculous demons. The ick factor is certainly high with fish guts, slime, blood and gore prevalent throughout the story. Demon Keeper is a fun, lighthearted read with definite potential for sequels!

Posted by Michelle

Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham
Can there be a funny book about an evil beast that hunts (and sometimes kills) teenagers? This book has just the right mix of horror, fantasy, and humor to pull you in and make you keep reading. Nat lives alone in a very scary house where he is the demonkeeper. The job involves controlling his minions (3 little demons who are supposed to help him) and feeding the beast in the basement (a really evil thing that wants to escape). Nat makes the mistake of leaving the house for a date with a girl (strictly forbidden) and while he is gone some kids break into the house and unknowingly release the beast. When a very creepy “thin man” enters the picture, Nat has to fight two evil beings to keep his job as demon keeper. Good thing he finds a pretty understanding girl to help him out of this mess. Like I said, it’s creepy and funny at the same time. I think middle school guys will especially like this one.

Posted by Mrs. Kochel  

Labels: A Guy Book, Horror/Suspense


Buckingham, Royce Demon Keeper, 216 p. Putnam, 2007. Nat is virtually alone and totally responsible for a houseful of captured demons. Along with his three minions, Nat has things under relative control, until the day that the Beast from the basement escapes and has a young boy in his sights. Things are further complicated by the return of an evil apprentice and the appearance of a love interest. It’s hard to believe that a book about demons could actually be called “funny”, but that’s what this book is. Cute, funny, exciting, dangerous and almost impossible to put down. For a book about demons, it’s not what you would normally think of as being an evil book. If you aren’t avoiding demon-y books, then you really need this one. MS – ESSENTIAL – Reviewer, Cindy Mitchell (


Book Reviews for the Average Joe
Royce Buckingham
Demon Keeper
Teen / Pre-Teen Fiction
Oh to have a sequel of this one come out. I’d snatch it up in a heart beat. Poor Nat, left alone to fend for himself and take care of all the little demons in the house. Plus the big bad demon in the cellar, all to keep them under control and out of the hands of the Thin Man.
What a fun read, great humour and action and I really hope a sequel comes out!

DEMONKEEPER by Royce Buckingham – MG (* * * *) – I think what I found appealing about this book was the brilliant use of action and humour. It read like a Disney movie, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. I think it was because of the intense plot and the jokes, but for the first time ever, I played the scenes of a book through my mind as animation. The main character, the demons, and even the bad guy – they were all animated. Weird.

As for the plot, well, it is fast-paced and wild. I was looking for a book that had a relentless plot and I found one. Kids will love it for its gore, it’s slapstick humour, the lovable main character and the coolest demons ever. I think DEMONKEEPER would also be beneficial for reluctant readers, especially boys.


Whitman Middle School – Seattle, WA

Horror/fantasy with a Seattle setting.  Teen-ager Nat lives in an old Queen Anne house with an amusing cast of magical creatures.  His mentor recently left him with the responsibility for their care, along with the job of keeping a very dangerous demon safely locked in the basement.  Nat has been studying a book left by generations of previous keepers in a variety of languages and his research takes him to the library, where he becomes the project of Sandra, a teen library aide who is determined to get a life and take some risks where boys are concerned.  During their first date the demon escapes from the basement and mayhem ensues.  Light-weight, funny.

The Reading Maniac

Demon Keeper, By Royce Buckingham: GREAT Book!
The book Demon Keeper, by Royce Buckingham, was excellent. This is one of those books that I read and think, “why didn’t this get more attention? Why didn’t anyone ever recommend it to me?” I love books like this! It makes me wonder how many other excellent books I have missed.

It was full of suspense, humor and action. LOTS of HUMOR! My son begged me to read more every night, and I didn’t mind because it was a great book. We love books full of magic, enchanted houses, funny happenings, strange creatures, interesting characters and I’ll tell you what, this book has all of that. You can read the summary below and be sure to check out my review for this authors other book: Goblins! by Royce Buckingham -Review. Demon Keeper will hopefully be made into a movie, as the rights were purchased by FOX in 2006, before the book was even published! Now that is impressive.

An now for the warnings: The book has some scary stuff, too. A few kids are eaten by a scary demon called BEAST and when this happens the description has some blood. Some kids may not be ready for this kind of book. I think it is a teen, young adult book based on this and I actually got it in the teen section at our library. Ages twelve and up would be a good measure, but every child is different. I know a five-year-old who’s favorite movie is The Mummy, for goodness sake. 



Review by Catherine Tuckwell

May 2009

Demonkeeper is a young adult horror novel by Royce Buckingham that is as dark and light as a Tim Burton fairytale. For most children, living in a house inhabited by monsters would be the stuff of nightmares; but for teenager Nat, it is his job.

Left an old, creaky house and all its pesky occupants by his now deceased predecessor and mentor, Dhaliwahl, Nat is charged with becoming the new Demonkeeper. Things quickly go awry when, on the one night he leaves the house, the most violent and lethal of the demons escapes. Nat must track The Beast down, with the reluctant help of his new (human) friend, Sandy, a bookish, neat, and frankly desperate girl who is even worse at parallel parking than yours truly.

To make matters worse, a former pupil of Dhaliwahl’s who had fallen out of favour arrives back in town with a score to settle. Initially known only as The Thin Man, he has his own plans about catching and using The Beast.
Despite being billed as horror, there is a healthy dose of humour that would not look out of place in a Pixar movie. From the description and antics of two young boys who get caught up in the melee, to the characters of Nat’s three little “helper” demons, even The Thin Man’s real name unintentionally made me laugh. Perhaps not everyone will agree with Dhaliwahl’s assertion that “Marriage is attempting stability. To be a keeper is wrestling always with chaos”. For some, they may be one and the same.

Although there is a good deal of comedy and wit, there is also some undeniably horrific, primeval action. Even the delicacy of choice for The Beast is tragic, in a way. Buckingham’s book covers the not so subtle fears like demons under the bed and noises in the basement, and the darker, ultimately more frightening fear of simply being alone – making it a much more wholesome tome than your average Goosebumps.

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