The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Sixteen-year-old Nick and his brother, Alan, are always ready to run. Their father is dead, and their mother is crazy—she screams if Nick gets near her. She’s no help in protecting any of them from the deadly magicians who use demons to work their magic. The magicians want a charm that Nick’s mother stole—and they want it badly enough to kill. Alan is Nick’s partner in demon slaying and the only person he trusts in the world. So things get very scary and very complicated when Nick begins to suspect that everything Alan has told him about their father, their mother, their past, and what they are doing is a complete lie.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

This is one of those stories that seems like it’s going to go one way, then it veers off road, over a ditch, through a tangle of brambles, and suddenly you’re somewhere entirely different.  While I had issues with the merely competent writing style, some underdeveloped characters, and the presentation of the world, The Demon’s Lexicon was an enjoyable read, the beginning of a series I definitely feel compelled to continue reading.

What Worked for Me

Plot • • • This story comes with a “doh!” moment, that moment where you realize all the clues were there right under your nose.  The thing is, this story doesn’t really give any indication that there’s a mystery you should be on the look out for (unless you read the jacket summary, which I didn’t–and I’m glad that I didn’t).  There were, however, some events that make me wonder why they happened the way they did, so I did have some lingering questions by the end of the story.

World building • • • I thought the world was interesting but front-loaded; it wasn’t as potent to me in the last half of the story.  This may have been because the characters’ emotional arcs took center stage.  Luckily, the world building in the beginning of the story was a good foundation, so I didn’t feel too lost or placeless at the climax.

Characters • • • What endeared Nick to me was his humor.  Without it, his character probably would not have been able to sustain my engagement throughout the story.  I thought his character arc was fascinating, how he deals with being unfeeling in contrast to his brother’s almost endless feelings.  My only issue was how the sub characters were underdeveloped.  I didn’t feel their presence on the page.

What Didn’t

Writing Style • • • This is Sarah Rees Brennan’s first book, and the writing was, at least, competent.  There was far too much telling for my taste, and interpretations of the character’s thoughts and actions that were given instead of implied.  Since the work of interpreting the rationale behind characters’ actions was done for me, I felt left out and less engaged than if I had to interpret actions myself.  However, I got a good feeling of how her writing style will change over time.

Missing Spark • • • Something just felt underdeveloped about this story.  I feel like Sarah Rees Brennan could have gone deeper, brought out different aspects of this story to give it a fuller feel.  At it is, the darkness of the story didn’t pack a lot of weight.

Takeaway

It isn’t something that would make my packing list for a summer vacation, but if I were with a friend at the library and they pulled it curiously off the shelf, I’d give it a thumbs up.

Book Info

336 pages • Book 1 • Published June 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

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