Sarah Rees Brenann is one of the slightly incestuous circle - including Holly Black and Cassandra Clare - of Harry Potter Big Name Fans who made it big in the YA urban fantasy world. She's also, as far as I can tell, one of the nicest and most talented - I've been following her work for years, and she comes across ad genuinely sweet, thoughtful, funny, and prolific. And she's made the transition to profic brilliantly - The Demon's Lexicon is one of the better books I've read this year.
On Amazon: The Demon's Lexicon
Author Blog: Into that world inverted
Length: 322 Pages
Our protagonist is Nick, a cranky sixteen-year-old who lives with his crippled older brother and insane mother. He keeps his sword under the sink, because it has to be kept somewhere, and they're on the run from a magician with a grudge, for reasons undisclosed. When a couple of kids of their school show up and trun out to be marked for death by the same magician who's chasing them Nick and Alan's lives get vastly more complicated.
I blather about characters a lot because I love characters, and Nick's a doozy. What seems at first to surliness is slowly revealed to be an extreme and disturbing disconnection from just about everything around him. The only thing Nick seems to really love is his brother, Alan , and even Alan is confusing to him. It's this devotion and trust which become a major source of conflict - Alan is keeping secrets, Alan is lying to Nick, Alan has a plan, some end game, that he isn't sharing. And when Nick finally figures he can't trust Alan anymore, he pretty much goes bonkers.
To top it off, Nick's an absolutely unreliable narrator. I love unreliable narrators, they're the best kind. The gaps and silences in the text speak volumes - Nick's puzzlement at people and emotions and the world around him and the way people behave is such an interesting view of the world, and the gaps and silences created speak multitudes.
I won't spoil the twist at the end, except to tell you that the final third of the book is utterly gripping and absolutely worth the read.
The book's only weakness is the occasional convolutedness of the world-building. It seems at times a little over-the-top and doesn't alway link into the narrative - but the book is the first of a series, so what seems irrelevant now may turn into plot-crucial information at a later date.
In any case, highly recommended.
- The Demon's Lexicon, by Sarah Rees Brennan