Sarah Rees Brennan’s “The Demon’s Covenant”

517tOGVXOSL._SL160_ Let’s get it straight, I didn’t not like Sarah Rees Brennan’s “The Demon’s Lexicon” – it’s just that I didn’t love it as much as I’d expected I would, having read all the glowing reviews about Ms Rees Brennan’s* debut.  There were some bits that appealed very much too me – the British feel, that twist at the end, but all in all, I didn’t fall in love with it.  Which is why I didn’t rush out to get “The Demon’s Covenant”, the second book in the trilogy, when it was released earlier this year. 

Fast-forward a couple of months, I was browsing in Foyles and irrationally pleased to see Megan Whalen Turner’s books featured in a display case right in the middle of the YA section – I mean, I’ve never ever seen her books in a UK bookstore before, much less spotlighted.  Why, they even had a hardcover of “A Conspiracy of Kings”.  Looking a little closer, I realised it was in honour of Sarah Rees Brennan’s recent visit to the store and her picks.  So how could I not buy “The Demon’s Covenant” after that?

So I did, and wow, was I pleasantly surprised.  This was a complete page-turner for me, and trust me, the book wasn’t far from my side throughout the entire day, that’s how much I wanted to know what was going to happen. 

“The Demon’s Covenant” picks up the story pretty much after the events of the previous book, but with a POV switch to that of Mae.  Mae is trying to put her life back together, except she can’t.  Magic exists.  Her life has changed irrevocably, and as much as she’s trying to ignore it, she can’t.  So she’s almost relieved to have a reason to have to call on Alan and Nick for help when she finds out that her brother Jamie is once again dabbling with magic and the dark magician Circles are trying to lure him away.  But Alan and Nick have issues of their own, and Mae finds herself entangled in a wider web of intrigue and power struggles.  Oh, and there’s also her attraction to both of the boys, for very different reasons…

It all builds up to an an exhilarating climax, and I was left slightly misty-eyed at the end of it.  The ending was one of those when you have to flip back and re-read a passage and you think “no, that can’t have happened”, but it did.  Several times.  And sets things up very nicely for the third and final book.

I’m thinking part of the reason I liked this better was because of the change in narrator.  In hindsight, it made sense that Nick, because of who and what he is, was somewhat detached from the world, and that possibly carried through to me as a reader.  I also didn’t quite grasp Mae’s character in the previous book – okay, if I’m totally honest, she was borderline irritating for me.  Maybe because she was to Nick, and it was his POV.  Job done.  Whereas in this book, the story is from Mae’s viewpoint, I understood where she was coming from, and empathised with her more.

This book just wasn’t about the plot, it was very much about relationships.  The main ones obviously being the sibling relationships – Mae/Jamie and Nick/Alan – which were very strongly drawn.  And so many other complicated relationships in the book: Mae and Jamie and their mother, Nick and Alan and Sin, Mae and Nick, Mae and Alan, Jamie and Gerald… the list goes on and on.  Characters make or break a book for me, and they certainly made this one.

There were some bits in this book that jarred on my ears slightly, such as overuse of certain adjectives when it came to describing some things, but the positives easily outweigh the negatives.  Oh, and something which amused me greatly: I occasionally read Ms Rees Brennan’s livejournal because she is hilarious.  And Jamie’s voice in the book is exactly the same as her livejournal voice.  Whether that is intentional or not, I have no idea.

Sometimes, the middle book of a trilogy feels somewhat lacking as it doesn’t have the novelty of the first nor the climax of the third – to me, “The Demon’s Covenant” had the wow factor that the first was missing and was a very satisfying story in itself.  I am now dying to know what happens next and how Ms Rees Brennan is going to wrap up this excellent story.

51RGn6bD9aL._SL160_ Finally, and somewhat irrelevantly, but curious minds want to know – why is Sin featured on the US cover, when it is Mae who is the narrator and has a much bigger part?  Unless that is Mae, but surely she has pink hair?


* I’m guessing it is Ms Rees Brennan and not Ms Brennan?  This always trips me up.


19 thoughts on “Sarah Rees Brennan’s “The Demon’s Covenant”

  1. I haven’t read those two books yet because I find ya urban fantasy not really satisfying, maybe I am too old, I prefer adult urban fantasy.
    On the other side I have nothing against ya fantasy and I have been looking for Turner’s books in every bookshop in Dublin, finally I placed an order and I hope to receive them soon because I can’t wait to get started

  2. What a great story, Li! It doesn’t happen that often, and I’m really glad the second book worked for you so well. Jamie’s sort of the bestest, isn’t he? 🙂

    As far as the covers go, that’s definitely Sin and I’m not sure why they went with her on the cover of Mae’s book in the U.S. Especially as Sin is going to be the POV character in the third book! And, word is, Alan will be on that cover. So it’s musical chairs coverwise, I guess. But I’m so very excited about book 3 and I can’t wait to see how all my suspicions play out.

  3. Em – I find the fact YA fantasy works for you but YA urban fantasy doesn’t rather interesting! Thinking about it, the most recent YA UF I read was Kelley Armstrong’s trilogy, and I agree – that came across as a bit “young”. This didn’t, though. Re MWT, the first, “The Thief”, is probably the most YA in feel.

    Angie – I am very very pleased I did get TDC, if you couldn’t tell already 😉 And awww… Jamie – he is hilarious. And sweet. I can’t wait to see Alan on the cover of the third, though colour me very confused. Glad I wasn’t wrong about Sin though.

  4. I think it’s related with the fact that fantasy books display worthy & feisty children (like Harry Potter or Lyra in the dark materials trilogy) and I love them while urban fantasy too often disappoints me with whiny heroines (and I can’t stand them, I am thinking Bella but also Clary in the shadowhuntes)

    About MWT I got the three of them, no more waiting 🙂

  5. Lol. I can tell when I am really into a book because I begin to stalk it, leaving it and then returning in a matter of minutes. I haven’t read either of these, but I loved reading the post!

  6. Very nice review, Li. I haven’t read the first book, but now… I don’t know, perhaps 😀

    I like the UK cover, too bad it doesn’t fit the book…

  7. Em – Interesting. I’m reading another YA UF at the moment, and stalling somewhat because the heroine is coming across as too whiny – am trying to convince myself to push on.

    And excellent news on the MWT front 😉

    Firepages – Exactly! I swear TDC was within arm’s length of me all day. Everywhere.

    Nath – The UK covers have an edgier feel compared to the US ones, which fit the books nicely I think. I was wondering if you had to read the first before this one, I actually don’t think so, though you do miss some of the background relationship-wise. Maybe your library has it?

  8. I bought both books in ebook version, so I simply picked my favourite of the covers – the UK one with Mae’s pink hair – and fiddled it into the book with Calibre.
    I haven’t read the second one yet, but this sounds very promising.

  9. Estara – For some reason, I’ve never thought about doing that with my ebooks! Good idea.

    After this one, I am very impatient for the third, so yes, it’s good 🙂

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  11. I didn’t read too much into your review about the Demon’s Convenant but if it made you into a fan of these books, I might just pick it up because I really really enjoyed Demon’s Lexicon!

  12. Sharry – I think I just connected more with the characters in this one and everything just worked for me. If you liked Lexicon, I have the feeling you’ll like this one just as much, if not more.

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