03 November 2013

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Demon's Lexicon #1
Release date: June 2nd 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Source: Bought

Nick and his brother Alan are on the run with their mother, who was once the lover of a powerful magician. When she left him, she stole an important charm - and he will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Now Alan has been marked with the sign of death by the magician's demon, and only Nick can save him. But to do so he must face those he has fled from all his life - the magicians - and kill them. So the hunted becomes the hunter...but in saving his brother, Nick discovers something that will unravel his whole past...

“The word 'home', it seemed, once learned, was a hard one to forget.”

The Demon's Lexicon, I think, can be best described as Supernatural set in England. And depending on your viewpoint of the show, it does many things better. So we have our protagonist, Nick, and his brother Alan - laughing at the generic English names tbh - living on the run with their mother, who is wanted by a powerful dark magician for ~reasons. We then have Jamie and his sister Mae, who are thrown together with Nick and Alan, also because of ~reasons. It is the bond between these two sets of siblings that lie at the heart of this novel, and while the plot moves at a staggeringly fast pace with brilliant twists that make it near impossible to put the book down for any extended period of time, it is the scenes between these four characters that move the novel from 'good' to 'fantastic'. Brennan never forgets that characters drive stories and as a result each of the four characters are vivid, unique and utterly heartbreaking.

The main theme of this novel is 'family'; it's the bond between Nick and Alan and Jamie and Mae that drives the plot forward - Nick and Mae parallel because both of them are willing to do whatever it takes to save their brothers while Alan and Jamie, placed in vulnerable positions, push to have their voices heard - that they don't want to be saved if it means sacrificing so much. Much of the book is an exploration of the lengths these characters are willing to go to for the sake of their families, and that family means more than just blood. It is a book about love - the love between siblings and friends, about choosing each other despite everything and standing united against all odds. It is a book about home, and what that means to each of these characters.
Nick is our protagonist for this novel and I love him, you guys. You know that bad boy with a heart of gold trope that YA is so fond of? Nick, at first, fits that trope exactly. He is grumpy, antisocial, sarcastic and has little to no interest in anyone but himself or his brother. Good-looking and intelligent, Nick is a unique character because as the novel progresses, you realise he's not secretly ~vulnerable or ~sensitive - he is pretty much an antisocial grump who has no time for anybody except those few people who he (unwillingly) bonds with. (He reminds me of Derek from The Darkest Powers Trilogy like, a lot. ARE YOU READING THIS, LAUREN.)

And I think that's what makes him so interesting - literally the only people who touch Nick are Alan, Jamie and Mae and he reacts to each of them in different ways. Alan brings out the overprotective brother in him and is someone Nick would die for without any hesitation. Jamie and Nick have a sweet, although somewhat tense relationship - the banter between them is hilarious because these two incredibly different characters bounce off each other so well. And of course, we have Mae. The attraction between Nick and Mae literally sizzles off the page - Brennan is just so good at writing these amazingly heated passages filled with sexual tension and it's terrible, so terrible. Brennan unfolds this multi-faceted character gradually and lovingly, giving us glimpses of the layers to Nick, and what I like is that these relationships he forms oscillate back and forth all the time; the relationships, as a result, feel natural and earned.

Also, I really really love how inclusive this series is. One of my pet peeves about the YA genre is that by and large it tends to focus on characters that are straight and white but with this series that isn't really a problem. Jamie is gay, there are many characters who are POC - including one of the main characters from the sequels, Mae is curvy and Alan is disabled. It's just a really balanced representation of people from all walks of life. I adore it.

READ THIS BOOK, GUYS. And then come back when it has emotionally devastated your life and you find that you can't go on because Nick and Alan have made you cry so much you feel like you're dying. I will be here for you.


  1. :-D I loved this book, in fact the whole trilogy!! Ahhhh Nick, Alan & Mae <3 Sarah Rees Brennan knows how to write!

  2. I absolutely adored this book when I read it several years ago. Slightly ashamed to say that I've had the other two books in the series on my shelf for that long as well .. unread. Must change that.


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