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The Demon's Lexicon

Review

The Demon's Lexicon

Nick is the typical bad (but sexy) boy. He doesn’t care about much. His schoolwork is a joke, he attracts girls but doesn’t mind when he breaks their hearts. He completely disrespects his mother; since his father’s death (for which Nick blames her), she has retreated into madness, and her physical similarity to Nick only reminds him of his own vulnerabilities. About the only things Nick really cares about are his brother Alan, who has been his main caretaker since their father’s death --- and killing demons.

Demons --- and the dangerous, powerful magicians who control them --- try to infiltrate Nick and Alan’s defenses on a regular basis. Fortunately, Nick’s quick hand on the sword and Alan’s equally fast reflexes on the trigger manage to keep the demons at bay. Those skills, and the protective talismans each brother wears around his neck (purchased at the Goblin Market to add an extra level of protection to their own defenses), have enabled them to live a remotely ordinary life. But when a sexy young woman named Mae and her brother Jamie appear at Nick’s doorstep seeking help, Nick’s personal defenses --- and his relationship with Alan --- will be sorely tested.

Jamie has been having troubling dreams, and strange marks have appeared on his body that seem to indicate he has been marked as a target for demons. Alan, besotted with Mae, agrees to help protect the siblings and try to remove the mark. Nick is resentful, especially when he starts to feel his own attraction to Mae --- even more so when he begins to suspect that Alan is hiding something from him about his own origins and powers.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s debut novel will keep readers guessing through a series of increasingly shocking revelations, including one that is a complete game-changer and will likely provide the focus for the subsequent installments in this projected trilogy. Although THE DEMON’S LEXICON achieves some satisfying clarity at its conclusion, the author certainly sets up future complications and conflicts that will keep readers speculating until the 2010 release of the trilogy’s second book.

Brennan does a good job of explaining her mythology (the book is set in modern-day England and remains credibly contemporary even as it delves into centuries-old mythology). And the lore is dark indeed --- so much so that the occasional attempts at snarkiness or tongue-in-cheek humor (e.g., “’I’m not all that accustomed to the walking dead. Is it all right if I cry with terror?’”) come off as jarring when compared to the overall melancholy brooding tone. Nevertheless, THE DEMON’S LEXICON’s smart, sexy, surprising storytelling offers readers a welcome alternative to the vampire and werewolf novels flooding young adult shelves.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 2, 2009

The Demon's Lexicon
by Sarah Rees Brennan

  • Publication Date: June 2, 2009
  • Genres: Urban Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN-10: 1416963790
  • ISBN-13: 9781416963790