Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Book Jacket

Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic.  Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power.  The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole--a charm that keeps her alive--and they want it badly enough to kill again.

Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help.  The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is desperate to save him.  The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hidking from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past.  As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.


Okay, caveat #1:  DO NOT JUDGE THIS BOOK BY ITS COVER.  I know.  I am constantly mortified to be seen in public with this book.  But only because of the rainbow boy on the front.  The story within is so fantastic that I gladly endure any social shame just so I can keep reading Nick's story.

Caveat #2:  This is not a spiritual demon book.  It's not weirdly dark or a gateway to magic.  These are Buffy the Vampire Slayer-type demons, creatures from a shadow world that want into ours.  Are they evil?  Yeah.  But not in a real-life, spiritual way.

On to the awesome!  Because this book brings it in spades.  I followed Sarah Rees Brennan's blog (link to the left) long before she became an author.  Her words sparkle with wit and beauty!  She makes me laugh out loud, which is kind of embarrassing when I'm around others!  And she can write a mystery like no one's business.

Seriously.  I didn't even know what the real mystery was until I finished the book.  And then I immediately started from the beginning and read the whole thing again.  Not even kidding--that is the ONLY TIME EVER that I have reread a book right after finishing it.  The twist ending was that mind-blowing.  I thought I saw where Brennan was going, but she took the story in a completely different direction.  And the crazy thing is, upon rereading it (this is my fourth time, and I'm still picking up clues), everything is there.  It should be super obvious, but it's not!  Brilliant.

Nick is an absolutely terrifying individual.  He is a sociopath, but somehow, I love him?  It's not even hard to know why, because it's all about Alan.  Even though Nick could care less about hurting people (physically or emotionally), he completely loves and trusts his brother.  Which makes Alan's lies so confusing and heart-wrenching.

And of course, that means I love Alan!  I love lying liars who lie.  No, but really, I love people who have a mastery of words, and good liars do.  He is manipulative, but fiercely loyal.  He craves a normal life, but he excels at the magical one he was thrust into.  In a word, he is awesome.

Then we have Mae and Jamie.  Mae is kind of incredible, because she manages to be an assertive, fully-fleshed out female SIDE character.  That is incredibly rare, and all the more amazing because Nick is the short-sided narrator.  And Jamie.  Oh, Jamie!  He is probably the funniest person I've ever read, and I was so thrilled to find someone who reacted to horrors of magical life with honesty (by which I mean, he gets scared a lot...and is hilarious about it).

This book has four fantastic characters.  There are side characters with enough backstory to make you want a full book about each of them (oh, how I want a book about Olivia...and also one about Gerald).  Thankfully, Brennan has written some free short stories about various characters on her blog.  Check it!  These characters find themselves in an urban fantasy world with a crazy plot and killer twists.  Read it now.

Five out of five Goblin Markets.

Release Date:  June 2009
Reading Level:  Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL BRE

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of The Demon's Lexicon:

A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy
A Myriad of Books

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