Book Review: The Demon’s Covenant, by Sarah Rees Brennan

Margaret K. McElderry Books
440 pp.

The sequel to The Demon’s Lexicon is from the point of view of Mae, who is trying to deal with her very complicated life which has been made even more complicated by magic and the presence of Nick and Alan Ryves. (She is also in the dog house with her mother Annabel, who it turns out, is not the kind of parent who would not care if her two children disappeared. She is just the kind of parent who deeply sucks at interacting with children. Unreliable narrators are not to be trusted and should not be trusted because they are unreliable.)

Not long after the events of Lexicon,Mae’s brother James is being approached by the magician’s Circle that had targeted him in the previous book. This time around, they seem to be intent on recruiting him instead of feeding him to a demon, so he’s rather conflicted. When she finds out about this, Mae goes to Nick and Alan for help, but they have problems of their own: the magicians are still after them, and they are on very shaky ground with the “Goblin Market” a group of individuals who stand inopposition to the magicians.

As opposed to the previous book, we have a lot more romantic running around, with Mae attracted to both brothers and a young man who is mostly notable for being a bully who had been harassing Jamie. (Maybe when one of your options is a demon who has no comprehension of human emotions and his brother who has a tendency to lie like a rug and is occasionally–okay, all the time–manipulative, maybe a bully seems like a sensible possible third choice?)The romantic possibilities are given a fairly realistic outline, with the writer making an effort to demonstrate that possibly all choices are bad (whichof course they are).

There’s a lot of really great humor and sarcasm, and a subplot where Mae attempts to teach Nick to at least act human, that has very limited success. (Nick tries to make friends and partially succeeds! He socializes and manages not to terrify anyone too badly!) We also learn about Alan and Nick’s father and his motivations in attempting to raise Nick via a journal.

I continue to like how consistently alien Nick is, and how the author plays with and subverts the “predatory being that secretly wants to be human” trope. Nick is not human, does not want to be human and only wants to learn how to approximate human behavior because his brother wants him to. Another thing I liked was the fact that Nick does want to do this for his brother is not shown to be because he secretly wants to be human. He is doing this for reasons that only make sense to Nick, not things that would make sense to a human, (but also),not necessarily to another demon. 

The sequel is just as strong and well written as the previous book, though I’m not sure I liked the ending. (Mostly because I would have liked more explanation,and because the writer did the thing where you have a character turn out to be really cool…and then you kill them off. I hate it when this happens.) With that said, I am definitely hoping for another sequel.

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Filed under fantasy, Review: Book, Sarah Rees Brennan, urban, young adult

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