Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Not Yet Published.
There are perks to being a librarian, not the least of which is getting a crack at advanced reader copies of upcoming books. And as soon as I saw a copy of this book, I thought, “Ooh, Tom Welling!” shortly followed by, “I should read this.”
But despite my first impression, this book turned out to be less Smallville and more Supernatural. For one thing, it’s about two brothers who fight demons and are perhaps unhealthily obsessed with keeping each other alive. For another thing — nevermind, that’s a spoiler.
Actually this review is going to be really hard to write without spoilers, and it’s one of those rare books where I actually think the reader shouldn’t be spoiled. I devotedly read the last chapters of books, but I didn’t in this one (except to take a quick peek to check that my favorite character was still alive to be quippy at the end), and I was glad I didn’t. So sorry if I sound unnecessarily cryptic, but it’s for your own good.
Nick and Alan live on the run, hunted by demon summoning magicians. So when a pair of demon-marked siblings show up on their doorstep asking for help, Nick is less than thrilled, especially when they endanger Alan. But when disaster strikes, all four teens have to band together to hunt the hunters (or, in this case, the magicians).
Brennan’s characters are excellent, all distinct and very interesting, with individual motivations and secrets that unfold as the book progresses. And their relationships are as tangled and complicated, almost to soap opera levels, if you like that sort of thing (who doesn’t?).
The character voices do tend to blur together, though, with Brennan’s witty dialogue sometimes overshadowing their personalities. The inconsistencies in Nick’s dialogue can be particularly distracting, as he occasionally pops out with humorous remarks, despite being otherwise dour and unemotional, and I sometimes had to read back and double check that he’d actually made a joke. (It has the same sort of surprising effect as Angel turning into a muppet). However, despite Nick being unemotional, dour, and sporadically hilarious, he is a strong protagonist, and effectively carries the book. I was engaged and interested until the last page.
There are a lot of surprises, as I mentioned before. The plot twists I saw coming just served to distract me from the ones I was blindsided by later, but Brennan has skillfully weaved her foreshadowing, so I never felt cheated. There is a lot of subtle tension here, and a reader will be well rewarded for reading in between the lines.
The book did end on a rather open note, despite wrapping up the main plot, so I’m assuming there is a sequel on the way. If not, I might be forced to subtract a rating point retroactively.
If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, or YA novels, look for this book in June, it’ll be worth your wait, I promise.
Dea’s Arbitrary Rating:
Dea’s Random Awesomeness count:
Vampires: 0 (but I’m tempted to count the incubus)
Surprise Zombies: 1