I decided to read this book after I read a companion short story that the author posted on her blog; that story is available here. Reading the story doesn’t require knowledge of the book, and vice versa; however, it will fill in a few bits of backstory that may be interesting to some readers. Sarah Rees Brennan, who is Irish, just turned twenty-six, which makes her a smidge over a year younger than I am, and has an MA in writing. This is her first published novel, and it’s the opening of a trilogy.
Nick and Alan are brothers and have been on the run from a coven of evil magicians (all magicians are evil; they feed people to demons) for a very long time now. When a classmate of Nick’s (named Jamie) gets into some possibly supernatural trouble, his sister Mae asks around and finds out that Nick and Alan are the ones to talk to. Unfortunately, of course, Nick and Alan have problems of their own; the coven is about to find them. Unfortunately, Jamie and Mae end up caught up in their drama. Just why are these magicians after Nick and Alan? And why does it seem like Alan is hiding things from his brother?
The Demon’s Lexicon is a fast-moving, exciting story; our main quartet of characters are being hunted by scary and/or unknown people for nearly the entire course of the story. There’s violence, with cars and guns and a possessed unkindness of ravens; there’s magic flying around all over the place, including a Goblin Market (no actual goblins, as far as I could tell), demon-raising via dancing, and magical pendants; and there’s a bit of romance, or perhaps just physical attraction. While most of the main characters are male, the female characters who appear are strong and feisty, but not in a stereotypical sort of way, and I especially enjoyed Mae’s “Romeo and Juliet Wouldn’t Have Lasted” t-shirt.
What I liked the most about this story was the twist. Yes. There’s a twist. I’m not going to give it away, but I have to say that it’s one of the best twists I’ve read in a while. Most of the books I’ve read recently with Big Surprise Twists at the end have either had really silly, really insulting, or really ‘where did that come from?’ twists. Obviously not everyone agrees with me, especially on Evernight, but if there’s going to be a Big Surprise Twist at the end, I don’t want one that makes me slap my forehead and say, “That was it?!” I’d like one that respects my intelligence and makes me laugh with delight, even if it’s sort of a big change to the whole world and possibly moves a book into darker territory than it had been in before. Ms. Brennan’s twist was a good one.
The characters and their interactions were another draw of the volume. Jamie’s nervous banter and Mae’s responses were priceless, and Alan’s and Nick’s combination of trying to protect the other were also quite interesting to watch. Alan has a crush on Mae, just to complicate things, but Mae is a bit more attracted to Nick than Alan (Nick has that bad-boy air, while Alan seems more like an intellectual). Jamie, of course, watches the whole triangle from the outside, and seems to find it a bit amusing. There are a few other characters — a dancer named Sin, for one — who fill in the edges, and I am looking forward to reading more about all of them in the next volume. My only complaint is that it’s too long until then. 4.5/5 stars.