Monday, October 24, 2011
Review: The Demon's Lexicon, by Sarah Rees Brennan
So the short version of this review is that if you like the TV show 'Supernatural,' you're pretty much gaurenteed to enjoy 'The Demon's Lexicon.' Which is not to suggest that Sarah Rees Brennan's debut novel is in any way a rip off of the show, it's just that the two share a few key ingredients. Demons and magic and all that but mostly? Mostly, it's about the brothers. Lying to save each other, weapon wielding, monster slaying, angst ridden and really, really pretty brothers.
There are just too few books out there that really explore the relationship between siblings. I'm inclined to think this is because it's just easier to get a reader invested in a romantic relationship. The whole will they/won't they thing doesn't really work with siblings, it's a whole different dynamic and it can be hard to do well.
For a start, siblings can do really awful things to each other that would spell the end of most romances. They can lie, cheat, steal and maim and still love each other, because it's family you know? Nick and Alan, the brothers in 'Demon's Lexicon,' are definitely not strangers to hurting each other, but the reader never doubts that they'd do anything for each other.
It's impressive, how effectively Brennan conveys their bond, because her POV character, Nick, is a long tall glass of emotionally stunted. Seriously. The kid is about as caring as a sharp sword, and colder than ice. Which you might think would make for some dark reading, but there is a real warmth to this book. This can mostly be attributed to Brennan's prose, which practically dances across the page and is full of wit and, yes, warmth. There is a larger than life quality to her writing that many books aspire to but few achieve.
And in any case Nick's emotional blankness was my favourite part of the book, weirdly enough. I don't think I've ever encountered another character like him. He's not "evil" or anything, but he's certainly not good either. Mostly, he's just really different. And its refreshing. And Brennan definitely has fun with him. For so long he's only let his brother get close to him, and Alan gets him. But the start of the book introduces two new characters into Nicks life, Mae and Jamie. Watching Nick struggle to deal with these intrusion was equal parts hysterical and moving.
The plot hinges around a magical charm, stolen some years ago from an evil magician by Alan and Nick's mother. I say evil magician, but in this world all magicians are evil and get their powers by dealing with demons. Nick and Alan have devoted their lives to staying one step ahead of the magicians, but then Mae and Jamie (another set of well drawn siblings) came crashing into their lives and mess everything up. I think this is a case of an ok plot being made awesome by the characters. Nick, Alan, Jamie and Mae are so well realised and three dimensional and just so damn fun to read about that any plot meh-ness passed by unnoticed.
And while a lot of people claimed that they saw the ending of this book coming a mile off, I really didn't! For me it was one of those really cool endings which leaves you stunned but when you think about it makes total sense.
This book I bought.