Aden Polydoros’s first middle-grade novel is a breathless story in which young Zach Darlington encounters Ashmedai, the King of the Demons, along with a triad of terrifying monsters and even King Solomon himself.
Backed by his younger sister and close friend, Zach, a not-yet-out gay kid who worries about telling his parents and friends about his sexuality, must save the world from the terrors unleashed by the antique ring he has bought at a local flea market. Zach discovers that when he wears the ring, he can understand animals’ speech. The rare purchase also releases Ashmedai, who teams up with Zach and his friends in their efforts to save the world. A secret society called the Knights of the Apocalypse attempts to sabotage the ring’s powers in order to bring about an ancient prophecy leading to the End of Days; but Zach and Ashmedai steadily defeat the forces of evil.
This dramatic and exciting tale is the first in a projected trilogy that will follow Zach and his friends.
Zach’s personal development as a gay Jewish boy who is forced to confront both homophobia and antisemitism will move readers while keeping them clinging to the edges of their seats. Those interested in Jewish folklore will look forward to what’s to come of Zach’s adventures.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.