The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

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The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Buy The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Stefan Bachmann
Reviewed by Stefan Bachmann
Summary: This engagingly written, character-driven teen fantasy is sure to delight fans of the genre. For everyone else it is accessible and entertaining, though ultimately forgettable due to its lack of originality and mostly flimsy plot.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847382894

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Even though the leaky sink pipe that tends to drip on his favorite sword annoys Nick no end, he has some far more serious problems to deal with. He and his older brother, Alan, are living their lives as fugitives, chased up and down contemporary England by a circle of ruthless magicians. These modern-day wizards summon demons to do their bidding, and are seemingly bent on seizing the magical charms that the two brothers' insane Mum carries round her neck. For the pair of teens, that means moving every few months, finding a new house, getting into a new school, building a new life every time the magicians catch up with them again. Everything only gets worse when a demon marks Alan with a sign of death. To save him, Nick has to erase the mark, and he can only do so by killing one of the very magicians who have been hunting them their entire lives...

Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that the two heroes are young men, The Demon's Lexicon is decidedly better suited for girls than for boys. Action scenes are few (there are a grand total of four in a book over three-hundred pages long), and are interspersed with lengthy digressions in which characters speak of their feelings and emotions, and how they plan to cope with them, and how much they love/hate other characters. Boredom never sets in during those parts; the author's style is too amusing for that, but all the talking does force the actual story far into the background. At times I got the impression that the whole world in which the book takes place was put on pause whenever the characters found they needed to pour their hearts out about something. As a result there's no real sense of urgency, and little menace from the pursuing magicians until quite late in the book.

So evidently the author opted to use the plot simply as a loose framework for her characters to interact in. In that case, well-rounded, interesting protagonists are crucial. She is very good at imbuing even the lowliest character with at least some depth, which is why it is so confusing that the leading man, Nick, is quite flat. While he is sufficiently dark and dashing, with plenty of one-liners and tongue-in cheek dialogue to make him superficially appealing, he seems to know only one mood: angry. No, violently furious. He snarls and shoves, yells and glares all through the book, and yet never shows much dimension beyond that. The final twist (which is very satisfying, by the way) makes sense of all this, but until Nick's character can be viewed in context with this turn of events he is somewhat grating. It's a good thing, then, that brother Alan is such a mild, pleasant fellow, and a little more nuanced as well. He is desperate for some normality, and yet always considerate of others, wanting to help the whole world even when it means putting himself in danger.

I am not part of this book's target audience nor am I very keen on character studies, but that I still found The Demon's Lexicon entertaining is definitely saying something for the skill of the author. Her prose is fairly ordinary, not particularly visual or descriptive, but it gets the job done and more importantly, engages the reader from the very first page. There's also a fair amount of humour present, a good thing in this case as it actually succeeds in being funny most of the time.

So... The Demon's Lexicon will be devoured by the teen-girl-urban-fantasy crowd it was no doubt written for. Anyone else will find it diverting enough, though they probably won't be gripped. There's just too little going on beyond the characters. Suspense only materializes in the final chapters, there's lots of talking, little action, only a few feeble sparks of originality... really nothing to raise it above the legions of similar books that are out there.

I would like to thank Simon and Schuster for sending this review copy to The Bookbag.

If you enjoyed The Demon's Lexicon you will almost certainly adore the likewise character-driven Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Readers who prefer more of an action-packed plot might want to check out City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

Buy The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan at Amazon.com.

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