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The Demon's Lexicon
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So, Monday turned out to be a fabulous day for consolation books! Not only did Jo Graham's novel arrive, so did an ARC of Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon (thank you so much, Karen!). I flipped a coin to decide which to read first, since I was excited about both of them, and ended up reading TDL first. And oh, it was just the perfect book to cheer me up on a day when I'd thought I was feeling too gross to really enjoy anything.

It wasn't the opening that did it. The first chapter is full of witty banter and great fight scenes, but I still wasn't completely hooked. The Demon's Lexicon is about two English brothers in their late teens who fight demons and magicians, and that's the kind of urban fantasy formula that makes me a little wary, nowadays. I have to confess I am not a fan of the TV show Supernatural, which I know a lot of my friends love; to me, the two brothers in Supernatural, at least in the first 3 episodes of the show (all that I've watched) seemed like 2-dimensional characters built out of clich├ęs, designed by some TV exec to be generically attractive but without any actual solidity or heart to them. In the first chapter of The Demon's Lexicon, I enjoyed the clever banter between Brennan's two brothers, Nick and Alan, but worried that this book, too, might feel to me like all style and no substance.

I was totally wrong. By the end of Chapter Two, I was hooked. By 40 pages in, I officially Could Not Stop Reading until I had finished the book, which I did that same night. The whole novel is full of great, creepy magical scenes, exciting action, and witty banter, but more than that, it's filled to bursting with tightly repressed emotion and an aching heart...which is all the more impressive because the main, viewpoint character, Nick (whom I LOVED) is completely emotionally stunted, a person who literally cannot process or express his feelings in any meaningful way. And the way we figure that out is through his mental voice, which...well, I could go on forever. I am in AWE of the way Brennan uses voice in this novel - I have a total writing-crush on her now, because oh, do I wish that I had written Nick! - but as a reader, of course, I never stopped to think about any of that, I just ate the writing all up and wanted more, more, more because I was having so much fun reading it.

Plus, halfway through the book, I thought I could confidently predict the ending, and although that predictable ending ever-so-slightly disappointed me, I was willing to forgive it...until I actually got there and it turned out I had been completely wrong in my predictions. And that is honestly some of the best kind of fun I can have as a reader.

I think this book may not grab all of its potential audience with its American cover. That cover is great for attracting a teenage girl audience, and I'm sure all the girls who snatch it up will love it just like I did. But as I was reading it, I kept thinking of all the people I know who would love it - and almost all of them were men. (FWIW, I think every single guy in my family would really enjoy this book.) (Well, except for Mr Darcy, who's a little too young for it, still.) Although the two brothers do have a romantic interest, that is a very minor subplot to the book. More than anything else, this is a book about the bonds of siblinghood (sister-brother and brother-brother), and in particular about what brotherhood really means. The main relationship arc is between Nick and Alan, and it's beautifully written and completely satisfying. (And BTW, regardless of my earlier caveats, I think that people who love Supernatural will also adore this book, maybe even more than I did.)

And now I can't wait for the second book to come out!


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