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.
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.