The Demon’s Lexicon – Sarah Rees Brennan
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009
For as long as Nick can remember, magicians have been hunting his family. They killed his father and sent his mother mad, and they are the reason Nick and his older brother Alan can never stay in one place for longer than a few months. They are obliged to move again when a flock of possessed ravens attack on the same night that a demon-marked boy shows up with his sister to ask for help and between them manage to get Alan marked by a demon too. All Nick wants now is to make his brother safe again. As they search for a way to remove the mark, however, he begins to realise that Alan has been lying to him all along. What is it the magicians really want – and what will Alan risk to stop them getting it?
There are high recommendations on the The Demon’s Lexicon from Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, both of whom are internationally renown writers of YA urban fantasy. Sarah Rees Brennan has a similar style; as with Black and Clare, her humans use dark humour to anchor their own versions of sanity in a mad and dangerous world. Nick is a consistent and surprisingly sympathetic voice – fiercely protective of his brother and yet bewildered by Alan’s empathetic impracticality – while Alan and his friends Jamie and Mae are a complex and relatable mix. Rees Brennan strikes all the right notes for believability, pulling you into a world of demons and magicians that for all its ugly secrets is difficult to leave. The trilogy continues with The Demon’s Covenant.