Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Demon's Lexicon #1

The Demon's Lexicon

Rate this book
Sixteen-year-old Nick and his brother, Alan, are always ready to run. Their father is dead, and their mother is crazy—she screams if Nick gets near her. She’s no help in protecting any of them from the deadly magicians who use demons to work their magic. The magicians want a charm that Nick’s mother stole—and they want it badly enough to kill. Alan is Nick’s partner in demon slaying and the only person he trusts in the world. So things get very scary and very complicated when Nick begins to suspect that everything Alan has told him about their father, their mother, their past, and what they are doing is a complete lie. . . .

336 pages, Hardcover

First published June 2, 2009

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sarah Rees Brennan

67 books5,057 followers
Sarah Rees Brennan is Irish and currently lives in Dublin. She's been writing YA books for more than ten years, which is terrifying to contemplate! She hopes you (yes you!) find at least one of them to be the kind of book you remember.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,798 (27%)
4 stars
3,493 (34%)
3 stars
2,561 (25%)
2 stars
854 (8%)
1 star
439 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,328 reviews
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.1k followers
November 20, 2010
Have you ever been doing something and had a sudden realization that you might just be evil?

And not the wimpy, I-want-to-be-sexy-and-kind-of-emo-looking-evil.

Like this...

I mean REAL evil like this:

the shining

Or this:

[image error]
No! No! Oh the humanity!!!!!

Well, The Demon's Lexicon made me feel like I possibly had no soul.

Which was suprisingly refeshing.

Now there's some discussion in the thread below regarding this author's crossover from Fanfiction to publishing. Despite appearances, I don't actually have a problem with this. Sure, I have problems with Clare but since she has like a bajillion dollars and doesn't give a fuck what I think, that about makes us even (as in CC fangirls stop freakin' emailing me telling me how mean I am! It's called an exercise in futility - look it up!)

I didn't know that Sarah Rees Brennan had been in any Fandom. I was plesently surprised to find out she was BFN, Maya, from the Harry Potter fandom and that's when I realized why The Demon's Lexicon rocked so much. Draco Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing...Rat? and Underwater Light are practically the only HP fanfiction I ever read apart from CC's Draco trilogy.

And they were fantabulous.

Luckily for Brennan, The Demon's Lexicon bears almost no resemblance to anything Harry Potter so I give myself full licence to enjoy this book.

I felt like the characterization of Nick, the main protagonist, was really, really refreshing. I often get sick of bleeding heart protagonists who insist on things like kindness to others and self-sacrifice, and giving the villain a second chance only to have the villain prove once and for all that they're a giant douche. Yet he managed to be cold and uncaring without being emotionless which I really loved.

In fact, Brennan manages to make you feel his emotions more than he does. Especially anger. I think I spent a good deal of the book angry at just about everybody BUT Nick. Mostly because, as the reader, Brennan brings you to understand Nick really well and it's frustrating to see so many people react to Nick with a complete lack of understanding of his character.

The writing was good, the plot moved at a great pace. I was never bored or checking the clock and something interesting was always happening on the page.

Nick suffers from Smartarse Syndrome which I thought at first was a little gimmicky but being so familiar with Brennan's writing, I've come to realize that she just can't help herself. The woman is hysterical. You either embrace it or you have no soul.

I did manage to figure out the mystery of the book but I wasn't ENTIRELY sure and the end was still a suprise - which I found to be really refreshing.

Over all, I really enjoyed this book and I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy!
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 67 books5,057 followers
June 8, 2011
I like this book, but I think I'm prejudiced. I mostly added it to my books so I could look at it and smile in its direction...

(edited because on reflection I cannot be unbiased.)
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
May 4, 2011
2.5 stars The first chapter in Demon's Lexicon is extremely misleading. The riveting opening scene starts off with two boys bantering in a kitchen until they're suddenly interrupted by an attack. Someone has sent a magical flock of ravens to destroy their home, and Nick and his brother Alan manage to ward them off in an exciting, action-packed scene. During the aftermath, Mae and Jamie, two kids from school that the boys know slightly, show up asking for help with their own terrible problem--Jamie has been marked for death by a demon, and they have nowhere else to turn.

After such a taut, well-plotted beginning, during which Nick seems to be a funny, quick-witted man of action, I was looking forward to sinking into what I thought was going to be a really great novel. Unfortunately, the structure of the book wobbled precariously throughout the whole thing, and much of the mythology was confusing or inadequately explored. Some of Nick's inner narrative was too belabored and meandering, and the author also relied too much on telling us things rather than showing them. In addition, much of the humor is very dry, and some parts that are meant to be funny fall rather flat.

Most importantly, however, Nick is just a mightily unlikable character. There turns out to be a reason for this, but he is so unkind and (mostly) unfeeling throughout the book that it became very unpleasant to stay in his head, and there's not enough warmth or charm to balance out the relentless onslaught of negativity. It's very difficult to write a book like this without offering redemption of some kind for the narrator.

The end of the book was significantly interesting enough that I'll probably pick up the next one from the library to see where the story goes, but I'll be approaching it with much lower expectations than I'd originally anticipated.
October 25, 2011
Wow. This book really snuck up on me. I wasn't sure at first, because the writing seemed as though a lot had been cut out initially. I didn't think I was getting the whole picture. I honestly think that this book was not written for the YA market, but it ended up as one because of the younger aged characters. I felt as though the author might have been asked to edit some parts out to make it more 'suitable' for younger readers, and I felt that initially. As CS Lewis has expressed, I think that a good children's book is one that an older person will love just as much, so I don't really agree with writing books 'younger' to make them fit into the YA genre. So that feeling I had when I first started this book sort of threw me. I have read Sarah Rees Brennan before, a short story in The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire, which I enjoyed immensely. So I knew she was a good writer. And the storyline of two brothers fighting demons and evil humans together called my name, as a huge fan of the Supernatural TV series and the Cal Leandros books by Rob Thurman. I was already excited to read this book. So, the beginning was so barebones, I got a little worried. I shouldn't have worried. This turned out to be an excellent book. So excellent, that I really can't knock it down from five stars despite its shaky start.

Ms. Brennan took a story that seemed all laid out for the reader, and gave it depths and twists that had me truly surprised. I didn't expect what happened at all. I had some ideas, and questions, and then things fell into place. I wondered about Nick, how he was so different from Alan. But I thought that maybe it was a matter of having more of his mother in him. Or maybe he was just wired differently from Alan. I think that humans are so unique, we can't expect each person to react the same way to the same set of circumstances. Even close siblings can be very different. But the twist, it makes sense.

This is an edgy book, and quite dark. I think that Brennan can definitely bring it when it comes to this kind of storyline. I don't assume that female writers don't know how to go there, and writers like Brennan show women writers do have the chops to pull off this kind of book.

That sibling bond is the lynchpin of this story. It takes what you think you know and you find you didn't know as much as you thought. You think that you know what love is capable of, but you don't have a clue. People often find their views of the world shaken by the events that occur, and from that point it's either adapt or die. It's a leap of faith to walk through a dark, twisted path, with no light in the horizon. But what choice do you have? Alan, who's so seemingly frail in need of protection, he will surprise you. Nick, who seems so strong and invulnerable, he has a core of need that shows you that strength sometimes is an illusion, maybe even a fallacy. Because we can't be a lonely, inviolate rock and survive in this world. We need an anchor. We need that tie of emotion to keep us grounded, to keep us healthy, sane, alive. Such is the case with Nick. There's definitely some symbiosis between Alan and Nick.

I'll add this series to my favorites about family and siblings because it captures so much that I love about this theme, and so starkly and beautifully. All the pieces fall into place, and the resultant picture is worthy of more than a second glance. It stands up against scrutiny in all the ways that count.

As far as the fantasy elements, very well done. Magicians equal sorcerers in this book. Magic ties heavily into demonology. The theme is inherently dark, but it's not so dark that it makes for unpalatable reading. But dark enough to be credible. Along with the fantasy are the cautions that humans of any persuasion can appreciate. Power comes at a cost. Do we really want to pay that cost? Really? Power corrupts and destroys. But love can change that prognosis in ways we never thought possible.

Yeah, it's clear that I am a fan of this book. I am highly recommending it to people who love the theme of brothers against the world, fighting the bad guys--real demons, and their own emotional ones.

Other books with similar themes you might enjoy:

Nightlife by Rob Thurman
Chimera by Rob Thurman
The Devil You Know by Felix Castor
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland
Profile Image for Margaret Stohl.
Author 95 books5,993 followers
June 19, 2009
I did not set out to love this book; the bar was too high. The word Demon itself, to me, is owned by Jonathan Stroud and Cassandra Clare. Even the main character, Nick, was about as grouchy about starring in the story as I was reading it. (I had half a mind to suggest to him that we both go our separate ways except for the inclination that he would probably have said it to me first…) And then we found each other, Nick and I, and though we were both cross, there was the matter of good-natured Alan to keep easing things on, and then ease was suddenly dis-ease, and magician after magician and demon after demon and then the wild dance of the whole magical universe, thick with life and distinction and detail and sorrow and power, came crashing down on the two of us, and Nick and I together were lost.

I am utterly smitten. Not since Jace and Simon have I felt as I do about Nick and Alan. The characters are expansive and troubled and complex, and nobody behaves as expected. I only wish I could have found my way to this (please god let it be a) series later, so that I could have read them all back to back. Because the wait is going to kill me. As will the one after that…

SRB is a powerful, dark, complicated voice, with an eye for the details that make characters come alive. At its heartless/heart, this book is about the power of family and the power of power, and the struggle when the two coexist.

What is it to be human? I don’t know SRB’s answer, but then her characters don’t either, which is what makes a very small story into a very, very big one. Demon’s Lexicon is right up on my top shelf with my favorite books of the year, not only because it’s brilliantly crafted, but because it is a perfect perfect book self. It’s not just a great debut for SRB. On every page, it reads like the book she was meant to write.
Profile Image for Annalisa.
524 reviews1,343 followers
June 16, 2009
I'm not sure I liked Brennan's world of magicians so obsessed with power they barter the lives of innocent victims with demons in exchange for magical powers. Demons as is the biblical sense of rabid creatures who will do anything to enter our world but are so out of control they quickly destroy the bodies they possess. And it isn't regular people turning to satanic ritual but people born this way, as evil magicians willing to sacrifice human life. Plus once a person has been marked by a demon for possession, often through no choice of their own, they can't detour possession and ultimate destruction. Hmmm. It was a tough world to set up and I wasn't always satisfied with the explanations.

The main character is an unlikeable, big, strong, violent, dyslexic, demeaning to women, unemotional, narcissistic teenage jerk and I was often frustrated with his contradicting range of emotions. I understand why she credited him with so much internal conflict, but just like the story it didn't always feel authentic, and I didn't always feel like I understood him. So I was frustrated. And yet, I found myself caring what happened to him. It's tough to write such an unsympathetic character, and most of the time Brennan did a decent job of getting us inside his head. He made such a fascinating character and point of view that I did like trying to figure him out and decide whether or not I sympathized with him. I hate the cover, but I found myself flipping back to it countless times to get a visual, especially when he was most unlikeable and I wanted to see something vulnerable in him.

My main issue with the novel is the writing. I want to know where this girl's (copy)editor was. With run-ons, dangling modifiers, and pronouns with no clue as to just which "he" or "him" she was referring to, I had to read several sentences and paragraphs over again trying to decipher exactly what she was saying. Plus, there were some scenes that could be quite exciting and expressive and they fell flat because the description is all wrong. I suppose that's what you get from an author with roots in fan fiction. Had the story been better written, I may have been fascinated with her interpretation of biblical demons and the Goblin's Market, but as it was I didn't feel she deserved to twist such iconic literature.

While the writing isn't great and the details of her world rubbed me the wrong way, Brennan came through with the suspense. I knew this story had a big twist at the end and that kept me turning pages trying to figure out what it could be before the big reveal. At times her attempts to keep the mystery secret were frustrating, not because I was anxious, but because I could not figure out what she was talking about. I didn't get all the clues, but I figured out enough that I was not surprised by the ending. And that twisted and evil surprise made the story almost worth it. It's an interesting concept and I like the idea of the conflicted main character, but the delivery of this novel left me somewhat frazzled. This is what literature has come to: shock value is more important than good writing.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,928 reviews1,167 followers
July 22, 2017
Although I spent most of the time cursing the male lead Nick for being a fxxking jerkass while I read this book, still the awesome ending is enough to make up for it. Plus the older brother Alan, he really rocks!

But still, ******PLOT SPOILER WARNING******

**********END OF SPOILER******

I can see it coming from miles away.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,419 reviews537 followers
October 2, 2019
I waited for this book to come out for at least a year, and when I finally got it (tonight!) I started reading it and didn't stop until it was done. It is insanely enthralling.

This is the first paragraph: "The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favorite sword under the sink." This is our introduction to Nick Ryves, a sixteen year old who has been on the run from magicians his entire life. He and his older brother Alan (with a crippled leg and a habit of caring about pitiful cases) have only themselves to depend on--their mother is mad, and their father was killed years ago. Desperate to free his family and his friends from demons and magicians both, Alan comes up with plan that could kill them all as easily as save them.

Nick has a fascinating POV, and the relationships between characters are believable and drawn with a deft touch. Brennan has a great ear for dialog, and uses humor to great affect. Every character has motivations, moralities, pasts and personalities--the depth therein never overwhelms the action, but makes it feel real, instead. The action scenes feel frantic and alive, and the twists and turns near the end...damn. Worth reading the entire book just for the showdown.
Profile Image for Ash.
86 reviews9 followers
June 13, 2010
I usually don’t trust books with pouty lipped guys on the cover (No offense guy on the cover. For any other reason I’m sure you'd seem attractive, but right now you’re on a cover and I don’t trust you). My theory has yet to be debunked. It was really hard to finish reading this. I debated just stopping, but I had some guilty conscious issues. Luckily I did eventually get to the end, which was definitely the best part of the book.

Quick Overview: Nick and his brother Alan with their half crazy mother have been on the run from magicians their whole lives, and have been on their own since their father died. The most persistent magician is Black Arthur, the man who drove their mother mad. He's after a charm she took and is willing to do anything to get it back. Things get even more dangerous when Mae and her brother Jamie come for their help after he's marked by a demon. Nick doesn’t care about helping people and doesn’t care much for them bringing their problems too. He’s only interested in keeping him and his brother safe. The always caring Alan insists on helping them though, and as a result is also marked by a demon. Now instead of running away from magic Nick and Alan, along with the useless tag-alongs, must go looking for magicians to take off the marks. Nick has always seen Alan as the only constant thing in his life, but as secrets slowly start being revealed he realizes Alan has been lying to him, and begins to wonder what else he’s been hiding.

The book is set in present day and as usual, magic is going on right under our stupid noses, we just don’t see it because…well, we’re stupid. The characters bothered me the most. You hear a lot about how hot Nick is. You’d think the author would trust you to understand the first five times within 100 pages it was said. The book is told in third person, but you’re only told Nicks thoughts, which don’t differ much from either anger or… oh wait, that’s about it. Nick is constantly annoyed, angry, or completely void of feelings at any given moment. It’s just tiring to see nothing else but rage page after page. Most times though, I felt Nick had a point, and his logic made sense(maybe not a good sign). Alan was my favorite, but whenever he did something particularly self-sacrificial I’d just want to slap him. I’d probably hate Mae and Jamie too if I were Nick. Actually I just hate Mae. She’s pushy and naïve and was a HUGE pain in my behind. She reminded me of those girls who smoked in the bathroom, drawing scary pictures on their hands and saying they are witches hoping that if they believe it enough then it might actually be true and thus making them the ultimate bad-a**. Jamie was witty and funny, but didn't sound authentic most of the time. It's like he was used as the designated comic-relief-gay-guy. Same with Mae (not the gay part, the not sounding authentic part). Mostly though I was annoyed: Alan protects everyone and has a crush on Mae, who doesn’t deserve him. Mae is missing sections of her brain so she flirts with both Alan and Nick. Nick hates Mae, but she’s kinda hot and he knows no girl can resist his hot bod, but wait that’s not okay because Alan likes her. Hold up, Nick is pissed at Alan so maybe he doesn’t care. Jamie cracks a joke. Nick remembers he hates everyone. Especially Jamie. And Mae. And his crazy mom. Repeat.

I’m a huge sucker for action scenes and this book had enough of those to satisfy me. What I really liked seeing though was the relationship between Alan and Nick. They both want to protect each other and sometimes you see how one does a better job than the other. I feel like I should point out that I thought the whole cheek kissing thing was weird. I know their brothers. They’ll hold hands on the others death bed, and touch their head if the other is unconscious, but under no circumstances have I ever known a male over the age of 12 to kiss another male relative on the cheek. Maybe that’s just me, but moving on. The actions of the characters make sense at the end. Not to sound like a smarty pants but I guessed at the “big secrets” pretty early on, as I think a lot of people did. I admit, some stuff I didn’t guess ahead, but it wasn’t mind blowing. The villain was a bit disappointing at the end too. Still, how all that stuff eventually played out was smart and original. The description was done well; you get a real feel for the characters feelings and the atmosphere.

So in all, the book was hard for me to get through, but the end tied it up well. The whole brotherly bond thing was nice to see. You don’t read many books that depict that. The title is pretty cool and smart. If you’re someone who usually reads books with these types of characters then I’m sure you’ll love it. I admit that I’m kinda resentful at how many and pep talks I had to go through to finally convince myself to finish it. Not sure if I’ll finish the series seeing as I still hate Mae. Maybe if the next cover doesn’t have a pouty lipped boy. We’ll see.
Profile Image for Merrin.
741 reviews49 followers
July 14, 2009
Oh this book. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. First, the writing was so godawfully bad in parts it made the whole thing a struggle to get through. The main characters were fine, but all other secondary and tertiary characters were so badly drawn as to be characitures of themselves, place holders for the final product the author clearly meant them to be.

The surprise ending was indeed that, a surprise, but even managing to fool me with her plot twist doesn't make the book itself any better.

I maintain it would have been better if the main characters had been in love with each other all along, regardless of the plot twist and the spoilers it entails.
Profile Image for Dorcas.
673 reviews15 followers
February 25, 2009
Alert: This is a 'read-till-3AM' book. There's the love of brothers and dysfunctional families, crazy fights with swords and knives and guns, and hilarious dialogue that pops up and surprises you.
Profile Image for Janina.
214 reviews526 followers
January 15, 2011
This book probably isn't going to end up on my all-time favourites shelf, but I did enjoy reading it a lot and am definitely interested in the sequels. It isn’t the strongest in terms of world building, but it definitely is full of suspense, surprising twists and engaging characters. Every one of them actually had a certain something that made him or her stand out. And boy, what an ending. Never ever did I expect something like that. It totally took me by surprise. And that happens rarely. Actually, for the first half of the book, I thought this would be a solid three star read. Good, but nothing too special. But the second half definitely deserves the extra half-star. I was literally glued to the pages.

Nick certainly is an unusual main character. He doesn’t like people – and he doesn’t pretend to. It was kind of hard to relate to him because he himself doesn’t relate to anybody. The only person he is loyal to is his brother Alan. Everything he does is centred on him. Despite all that, I found myself caring about him. Alan comes across as rather harmless at first, but later on he clearly shows that there is something else in him – both on the positive and the negative side. I liked to see how the brothers’ life was turned upside down by Mae and Jamie. Those two had a great relationship and I loved how Mae stood up for herself and her brother and didn’t let herself be irritated by Nick – at least not too much. Nevertheless, (and this goes for all the characters) I didn’t really feel with them or for them at the beginning. They only grew on me as the story progressed.
The only thing I didn’t buy: Nick is often described as cruel and able to scare others with his menacing look. But Sarah Rees Brennan didn’t really make me buy his badass-attitude. Not once did Nick seem frightening to me although she clearly intended him to be that way. He is more like a boy who has shut himself away because of his past and now tries to scare others off from coming close to him, not letting himself feel anything for them. I felt sad for him because he wasn’t able to make friends or even love, but he did not scare me with his behaviour. Actually, he sometimes came across as a little brat. Nevertheless, I liked him.

As I said before, the world building isn’t too strong; the reader only gets thrown little pieces of information every now and then. Basically, we have this setting: Evil magicians are able to call demons and make them possess humans, being granted powers to conjure up strong illusion in return. I didn’t really understand why all magicians were supposed to be evil – the reason given is that the demons’ power is addictive and they can’t live without getting more at some point – but it felt weird to me that no one should be able to counter this addiction.
But the world is based on an original idea and the premise does make for an interesting story with a lot of twists, secrets being revealed and battles being fought. Also, I loved the atmosphere of the Goblin Market; it had something very engaging and colourful, yet mysterious and dangerous about it.

The writing sometimes read a bit awkward to me, especially at the beginning. There were passages where it flowed extremely well, but then there would come a sentence that would make me frown and that didn’t really fit. Also, when past events were retold, the narrative felt very distant, almost like the narrator didn’t care at all about what happened – it had this grocery list feel to it that didn’t really go well with traumatic experiences. And – seriously – the name Nick was all over the place. I didn’t count, but there were a few paragraphs that made me wonder: Why doesn’t the author use a personal pronoun every now and then?
But, I have to admit, after the first few chapters, it got better. Maybe also because I had become engrossed in the story and didn’t feel like nit-picking anymore.

All in all, not a book I regret spending money on (Although the cover is beyond ugly. I was always trying to hide it from peoples’ glances when reading on the train.) Will be checking out the sequel soon.
Profile Image for Jessica.
719 reviews610 followers
December 26, 2010
The Demon’s Lexicon tells the story of 16-year-old half-orphan Nick who is on the run from a circle of evil magicians. He lives with his older brother Alan, who practically had to raise him all by himself due to the fact that 1) their father has been killed by said evil magicians and 2) their mother’s deep dislike of Nick. She resents him and makes it perfectly clear that she has absolutely no love for him. She doesn’t want to see him or talk to him and so she hides out in her room basically 24/7. A nice lady, really.

The atmosphere Brennan creates in The Demon’s Lexicon is extremely dark. Imagine the bleaker side of London, with rundown brickwall houses and factories, a world full of dark magicians who sacrifice people to demons in order to gain more power, the mysterious Goblin Market where all sorts of magical objects can be purchased and dancers sway to the beat of drums in order to summon demons...

I have to say that I’m actually surprised at how much I liked this book. I really wasn’t sure at first because the main protagonist Nick definitely takes some getting used to. He’s rough, he’s rude and void of any feelings. Everything he does has the sole purpose of keeping himself and his brother save. Alan is the only thing that means anything to him. By that I mean that Nick is 100% loyal to Alan but to say he loves him would be quite a stretch. Nick doesn’t know what love is. He’s a bad boy through and through and I don’t mean in a I’m-so-though-on-the-outside-but-I-really-care-for-you-on-the-inside kind of way. No. He’s a I’m-though-on-the-outside-and-on-the-inside-and-I-couldn’t-care-less-whether-you-die-or-live bad boy. Nick.Doesn’t.Give.A.Shit. Period. At first, all this makes it a little hard to relate to him but Brennan does an awesome job of letting the reader see the world through Nick’s eyes and get a thorough understanding of why he is the way he is.

Even though we’ve been off to a rocky start, Nick grew on me more and more and I developed a fierce protectiveness of him. And a little crush, I guess ;-)

If you’re looking for something sweet and fluffy like this I can only recommend you to stay away from The Demon’s Lexicon because what you’ll get is more like this. There’s a little bit of romance in this book but not too much because, as I said, Nick isn’t really the cuddly type. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading this, the plot was gripping, the secondary characters (like Jamie for example) made for a good laugh here and there and those twists and turns...seriously, I never saw it coming.
Profile Image for E..
191 reviews5 followers
August 7, 2012
I am plodding through this book because I spent money on it. The scenario facing the main characters is at first very, very similar to some others I know and love (namely Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural), only this book is set in England and there are occasionally swords.

I figured, hey, cool, let's see how she does with making her book stand apart.

First, let me say that there are some interesting aspects to the book. The dialogue is primarily good and I enjoy the interactions between the two brothers, which keeps me reading so far.

Unfortunately, this book leaves a lot to be desired. There are large, unnecessary blocks of exposition. The descriptions are for the most part overwrought. Everything shines extremely bright or is composed of bizarre combinations of colors which don't make sense but apparently lend an air of magic to the object(s) in question. Physics does not apply properly; the main characters' mother's hair can float and makes strange noises when it... lands. We are also reminded in every single paragraph featuring the mother that she has black hair.

I suppose that if handled deftly all of these elements might have come together to form an interesting world. As it is, I find myself saying, "Oh, something else that shines! I see!" It's a case of too much of a good thing not really working.

In short, with better prose this book would remain interesting to me. As it is I am only finishing it because it was not free or a library book.

EDIT (8/7/12): This review was originally written in 2009. I did actually finish the book, but it was hard going. I didn't see the twist coming, mainly because I didn't care enough about the plot anymore while slogging through nigh unreadable prose in the head of a character I couldn't relate to at all in the end. I'm sure that Brennan has some interesting concepts in the rest of this trilogy, but her writing is unreadable to me. I just can't care. Even with the twist, this book gets one star. I hated it.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
December 27, 2010
2.5 stars

I was a tad disappointed in this book. I looked at my status updates and I had seriously wanted to put the book in the “time out” corner for a while. Luckily for the book (hard cover copy), my ereader decided to malfunction, so I was stuck finishing The Demon’s Lexicon instead.

The Demon’s Lexicon is the story of two brothers who are constantly moving to get away from the magicians who seem to want something from the brothers or their mother. Herein lies my problem with this book. I was never quite sure why the brothers were always on the run, and why their mother was in such a catatonic state. Yes, the reasons are revealed later on in the book, but it made for a confusing read at first.

The world of The Demon’s Lexicon is interesting. There are magicians who control their magic through the control of demons. Regular people can be marked by demons and once a person has three marks, a demon can enter and possess that person. The only way to remove a demon’s mark is to kill a magician and smear his blood on the mark. Alan the older brother had one demon mark.

I did like the younger brother Nick. It was because of Nick that I kept on reading. Nick was a cold, calculating character. He was also a fearless fighter and a loyal brother. His sole goal was to remove Alan’s demon mark.

There were times when I was rereading sentences and paragraphs, not understanding who was speaking or to whom the sentence referred to.

There were some good and funny lines in the book, but I still felt like I had difficulty staying focused on the story. Around 2/3 of the way through the book, some excitement does happen, but it was too late for me.

Profile Image for emily.
41 reviews13 followers
April 10, 2018
so I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting but... wow I loved this it was amazing? I liked it way better than unspoken tbh, my faith in srb is affirmed

I've seen people complain about nick's character but it was one of the best things about the book for me -- if I didn't say that I'm even a little tired of excessively kind and noble and morally righteous heroes whose every action is fueled by the Greater Good I'd be a lying liar who lies. I thought srb did an excellent job at balancing his character out, making him genuinely ruthless and cold and murdery etc etc but simultaneously humanizing him with vulnerabilities like being dyslexic/seasick, or his single-minded devotion/attachment to his brother, or just the relentless anger and frustration he has toward his situation. (hah, I'm trying not to spoil the thing but it is so hard) even as he's thinking about how he doesn't feel fear or empathy or whatever, he's still far from emotionless, and I sympathized with those emotions as I grew to understand his character. I really did like being in his head, even if I'd run screaming from him in real life.

(my favorite is still jamie, though, I love and cherish jamie crawford and would probably take a demon mark for him and I hope he gets more pagetime in later books)

as for the relationships, I liked everything except the romance which was b o r i n g. thankfully there wasn't a lot of it and the main focus was on the family ties and nick + alan

anyway I have nothing else constructive to say but this was great and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series :')
Profile Image for Janelle.
1,132 reviews138 followers
August 21, 2020
For a good two thirds of this book, I was frustrated with it. The world building was almost nonexistent and the main characters seemed to be whining teenagers (ok it’s YA, I should expect that). There were some interesting moments, the goblin market for instance but mostly it was just running from one situation to another. Then it all seemed to end with a rush and a lot of the explanations were really interesting. Perhaps the back story would’ve made a better novel!
Profile Image for Morgan F.
512 reviews465 followers
August 26, 2010
Nick Ryves and his crippled older brother, Alan, have been running from magicians their whole lives. Magicians are humans who can control limited amounts power. They get this power from sacrificing innocent people as hosts for demons, who have unimaginable abilities. Alan and Nick's mother used to be an evil magician, and she still owns charm which others would kill to possess. When a brother and sister, Jamie and Mare, come to the Ryves brothers for help, Alan is dead set on taking them in, despite Nick's convictions that they will only bring danger nearer, for Jamie bears a demon's mark, a sign that means certain death for the carrier. Nick is reluctant to have anything to do with saving the boy until Alan is also marked, making Nick desperate for magician's blood which is the only thing that can erase a demon's mark. Now Nick must go after the very thing he was trying to evade, uncovering deep-rooted lies and family deceptions along the way. It turns out Nick might be more dangerous than anyone ever imagined.

Nick is a dark main character, one that is hard to sympathize with, as he sympathizes with no one else. He is a real bad boy. One with no regrets and quick to draw his sword (hehee, dirty). He really cares for no one except Alan, who he is devoutly loyal to. I didn't like him much. I like characters who have more vulnerability and a wider-span of emotion. I won't really complain about it though, seem as it is necessary for him to be so. But, I still didn't like the other characters, although Alan was certainly interesting.

I did think the fantasy aspects were imaginative, but I never got sucked into the plot. I was completely indifferent towards the book until the last fifty pages. There were plenty of twists and turns towards the end, but the only one that really surprised me was the biggest one of all.

For some reason, I didn't like the writing. I had a little trouble reading it. This might be because I am distracted by the anticipation of reading Mockingjay, and no book will ever seem right until I have it in my hands.

This also is trivial, but I don't like the covers of this book. Every edition I see just has a dumb cover, no offense to anyone who likes them.
Profile Image for Sami.
54 reviews27 followers
September 14, 2011
"Dear Diary,
So today I found out my brother is THIS close to becoming a demon's meat puppet so I tracked down these brothers who I hope will help. One keeps a sword under the sink and the other could shoot a bullseye through the O of an alphabetti spaghetti. I think I want to see them naked. ~Mae" (not actual dialogue)

Sarah Rees Brennan is an author that really knows her way around her characters. The best parts of this book series are in the dialogue scenes. The banter is what makes this series. Sure, there's wonderful characters, but what's a handful of hot boys and a pink-haired chick without the right banter?
I love Nick. I love to hate him. I...love to watch him with a sword. He's dark, he's brooding, he likes to find his way out of his clothes.
I love Alan. I love that he's the best kind of nerd, a book nerd. I also love that he won't hesitate to blow a hole through whatever threatens his brother.
I love Jamie. He annoys me a lot, but he's got some of the best lines of the entire group. In fact, his banter with Nick is what makes me love him most.
Mae...well she grows on you...eventually.

I hate making this review so short, but it's hard to even introduce these people without giving away everything that I think a reader should experience on their own.
I was introduced to this book by a friend and I can't say I would have found it on my own. It wasn't readily available on my bookstore's shelves and had to be ordered.

The plot of this book struck me as fresh, even though I've seen versions of the demon possession/magician genre before. The supernatural factor here doesn't disappoint fans of the genre, nor do fans of the classic love triangle find themselves forgotten.

A word to the reader. The author is a great fan of the evil underdog, the tragic bond, and the...really hot make out. Love her. Love her lots. Buy her books.
13 reviews6 followers
March 13, 2009
I lived in utter terror that this wouldn't be as awesome as I wanted it to be, because I am paranoid that way. But it is awesome and it's deep and it's dark and it's moving and it's funny (though not quite as funny as I expected, but it makes up for that by being way more intriguing than the first few chapters might imply).

So, what's it about? I can't tell you, I am sworn to secrecy. Well not really, only about info that hasn't been released yet. Cause the book doesn't come out till the 1st of June (oh my God that is forever away, why are they sending out advanced copies now? You will all have forgotten I told you to buy it by then, so you better pre-order it from Amazon now so you don't forget).

It's about a 16 year old boy called Nick, who has a big shiny sword and an older brother called Alan. Alan and Nick and their mother are being hunted by his mother's ex and his circle of magicians, cause when she left him she stole something and he really, really wants it back. As if that's not bad enough, Alan keeps trying to help people and manages to get himself marked by a Demon in the process.

The story is about family and about needing to connect with people. It's a chase and a mystery and a fantasy world within our world. And it's dark and sexy and unexpected. It creeps up on you, by the end of Chapter 5 you know you're well and truly hooked.

You will like this book if you like dark fantasy and occult literature. It's sold as young adult, but just cause the lead character is 16 doesn't mean adults won't enjoy it too. I already pre-ordered 5 copies to give to people I know, so I'm not just saying it's good cause I got a free advance copy, I'm putting my money where my mouth is too.
Profile Image for Rachel.
237 reviews17 followers
July 12, 2009
I didn’t expect to love this book. I thought it would be just okay and perhaps not my type of thing. (I thought the cover was a bit silly) Instead I found myself dropping everything else in order to finish it.

The narrator/protagonist is Nick. He’s not a terribly likeable person. His only interest in life if sword practice. He kills people (evil people who are trying to kill him – but still). He tortures enemies when necessary. He has very little regard for human life and empathy for no one except his older brother. I should have despised him, but he’s so subtly tortured that almost from page one I loved him.

Nick and his brother have been running through modern England from an evil nest of magicians for as long as they can remember. The magicians killed their father and turned their mother mad. Now the magicians have the two teenage boys in their sites, and not only must Nick protect his mother, brother, and two innocent (sort of) by-standers, but his own history and the reason behind the magicians’ quest are unraveling.

The story is interesting, but what made this book so fabulous (and really what it is about) is the relationship between the two brothers. Just when I thought I understood them (and this happened several times) it all got thrown up in the air with a new twist. There were foreshadows about how the giant story question would end, but that just made everything so much more fun because I was never quite sure if I was guessing right. And then the final twist was even more twistier than I anywhere near expected.

It’s a fun book with an interesting premise that while on the surface seems teen urban fantasy is really quite a bit more. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews524 followers
August 18, 2009
Young adult urban fantasy with teenaged brothers running from evil magicians and demons.

All right, this impressed me. I classified it in the first chapter as 'YA urban fantasy with demons: species generic,' but then the protagonist just kept happening. He's fifteen and a sociopath, not to put too fine a point on it, who would see the whole world burn without a qualm as long as his brother is safe. The close POV on him in all his disfunction, and the emotional nuances he does and doesn't get, is mostly deftly handled (except when it's clumsy), and he totally made the book for me.

Observation: It's really strange how a relationship that's deliberately slashy – the author clearly intended the homoerotic subtext and deliberately coded brothers as lovers – just isn't as engaging as unintentional homoeroticism. Perhaps I really do slash for subversion, after all, because when it's spoon-fed so obviously on every page, it's just not as fun.

Criticisms: were the plot twists supposed to be that transparent? Because, well, duh. Also, I'm pretty sure her witty banter in her fanfic was a lot more, um, witty (she wrote Harry Potter back in the day).

Still, when the sequel comes out, I'm there.
Profile Image for Mike.
489 reviews171 followers
February 18, 2016
So, I originally only had a brief, badly written review for this book, because I read it right as I came to GoodReads, and I was still adjusting to everything. That was fine at first, but I'm so far in the minority, and I'm having so much trouble understanding the positive reviews that I think I'm going to have to write that one-star review, just to get my thoughts together.

I think my biggest problem with the book was the focus on the plot twist. There's nothing wrong with a big surprise - it's ideal, in fact. But when you base an entire book around it, the book will inevitably become boring, and by the time the twist finally arrives, your audience doesn't care anymore. That's what happened to me; I'll admit that I didn't predict the twist, but it's only because I didn't care enough about the book and its characters to piece together the foreshadowing, and the twist didn't at all grip me the way I suspect it was supposed to.

To be honest, I don't understand most of the compliments that the series has gained. For example, people seemed to enjoy the dark mood. This baffles me. I understand that when reading YA, it's easy to develop low standards for darkness, with books that seem to treat tension as the antithesis of quality. But what I don't understand is why this book is any better in that regard. Throughout the course not a single thing happens that feels intense, disturbing, or even dramatic; other than some vaguely-defined consequences of Jamie's demon's mark not being removed, there's no tension at all. I suppose that I have high standards of darkness, just as most readers have very low ones. I read Animorphs when I was in third grade without ever being disturbed or horrified, and Animorphs was one of the darkest series ever published by Scholastic. Still, even if I were to be gracious, this wasn't dark in the least.

But books don't need to be dark, do they? Of course not. It helps, certainly, and a fantasy book should have some tension, but darkness isn't required. What is required is interesting character interactions. But why should Brennan provide that? Like the darkness, the character interactions in no way aide The Twist, and The Twist is the only point of the entire book. To be fair, it does appear that character development was attempted, but it was done in scenes that felt entirely obligatory. The scenes failed because it's immediately obvious upon reading the book that Brennan hasn't given a single thought to the personalities of her characters; I could hardly tell them apart. The only one who was at all developed was Nick, because his personality provided foreshadowing for The Twist.

But without the knowledge provided in The Twist, Nick is impossible to relate to. Throughout the book, he shows almost no emotion whatsoever. The only thing he ever shows concern for is his brother, Alan. It was like reading the POV of a robot. There was a good reason for this (It was The Twist, of course. Everything in this novel comes back to the twist), but that didn't change the fact that Nick's eyes were a boring place to look through. For the sake of foreshadowing, why not give another characters' perspective on Nick? The book is written in third-person, after all. I'd kill to know what Alan thought of him; that would not only give us someone who feels human to relate to, but it would also add a depth to Nick's lack of relteability that I never saw.

From reading this review, you might've gotten the impression that I wasn't a big fan of the plot. And you'd be right! Even after having read (some of) the sequel, I can hardly remember the plot at all; nothing memorable or interesting ever happened. Literally every single event that happened occurred for the sole purpose of serving The Twist. As you can imagine, this didn't really lend itself to a whole lot of events. Instead, we got material that was blatantly filler, simply because The Twist wouldn't work if we weren't familiar with everything before it came. I can't think of specific examples because they were all so boring, but the filler scenes were numerous and annoying.

The worldbuilding was actually fairly detailed. I suppose then that I don't have to tell you that it furthered The Twist. It wasn't very immersive, though; I never felt the book's world come to life the way that an urban fantasy world should. It just felt like a bunch of words on a page. There were no contradictions, which I liked, but there was nothing that made me care about it, either.

People also seemed to like Brennan's humor. If someone would like to explain to me why, I'd appreciate it; I don't have a clue. It reminds me of watching an episode of Last Man Standing; humor that mostly comes from sarcasm and rude one-liners*; clever in the blandest way possible.

But I still haven't mentioned the real thing that makes this book horrific: the writing. Because it was atrocious. Relentlessly so. I wish I could provide quotes to give examples of my problems, but I don't have the book on hand, so descriptions of them will have to do. Brennan's writing is some of the most consistently awkward I've ever read. Again and again, Brennan's word choice was blatantly wrong, creating turns of phrase that just didn't sound right. Also, just a small nitpick: what does Brennan have against contractions? Why does she insist on writing out 'does not' and 'is not' and other such phrases? It should not have been as big a problem as it was, but it never failed to interrupt the flow whenever it appeared. (Not that the writing provided much of a flow to interrupt.) And, finally, there were the similes. Anyone who was bothered by the similes in City of Bones (yes, I'm looking at you, Kat Kennedy) won't be a fan of Brennan's writing, because the similes here were almost as frequent and almost as atrocious. Again, I wish I had a specific quote in mind, but I don't.

So as it turns out? Bad writing made it into the quotes pages. It was mostly dialogue (because for some reason, most people find the dialogue funny), but in what prose there was, it wasn't hard to find awkward writing. Here are two of my favorite examples:
Someone always put lace curtains in the windows of dreary houses, and Nick was unsurprised to see the curtains making their attempts in every window of this place.

"Making their attempts?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? Making their attempts to do what? Also, I hate when authors say "this place". It always sounds forced and childish.
He had called girls to him before. There was nothing so easy whether you were walking into a classroom, a club, or down the street.

"He had called girls to him." It wouldn't have worked to say "He had called girls."? Or maybe just completely throw out that word choice and say "It wasn't hard call girls", then change the second sentence. But what Brennan went with? That just sounds wrong. And speaking of the second sentence, there's a missing comma after the word 'easy', and her word choice essentially said 'There was nothing so easy whether you were walking into down the street.' (If what I just said doesn't make sense, my apologies. Feel free to ask me to clear it up.) I don't have to explain why that's wrong, do I?

So, this book didn't work for me. No matter how many positive reviews I read, I can't seem to pinpoint why others felt differently. Some advice, on the off-chance that Brennan is reading this: it is a horrible, horrible idea to build your entire novel around a single twist; by the time The Twist actually arrived, I didn't care enough to feel any sense of shock. You need other elements in your book (plotting, character development, quality writing), or else everything you write will fall just as flat with me as this did.

*Although never stereotypes; for all my complaints about the book, I will say that I appreciated Brennan's determination to avoid stereotypes.

A new and improved version of this review can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Roxane.
142 reviews66 followers
November 30, 2009
I might as well come out and say it up front: I’m not going to be the least objective about this book or this author. You see, Sarah Rees Brennan AKA Maya is the one who got me hooked on HP fanfiction, slash and more particularly H/D. I’ve enjoyed everything she has ever put up on her lj which I’ve been reading for years now! She’s a gifted storyteller who does brilliantly amazing things as far as characterization is concerned. That’ll do for context.
Her debut novel is marketed as YA and I’m not sure why. If it is YA at all, it’s definitely more on the mature side and certainly dark, clever and rich enough all in terms of writing and world building to blur the lines between YA and adult fiction.
It seems that, these days, most urban fantasy that’s out there unavoidably loses its way to become paranormal romance and that’s part of the reason why I avoid the genre as a whole. But I couldn’t care less about subgenres here. Quite frankly, if SRB had written a rip off of the LOTR, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it and would’ve bought it and devoured it as fast as I did The Demon’s Lexicon (confer the opening paragraph on objectivity). Here, I found the urban fantasy to be a wonderful tool that really participated in grounding the characters in real life and helping the reader identify with them. SRB does such an amazing job at giving life and texture to the relationship between the brothers, depicting the complex mix of love and tension that, at times, unites and, at others, comes between them (yeah, I did feel the Winchester brothers echo at the beginning but it didn’t take long for the Rhyves brother to really grow and become their own pair in my mind). Honestly I couldn’t get enough of them and the other two main characters. In terms of interaction, exchanges, dialogs, SRB is always spot on and that, I think, is the book’s greatest strength.
It’s got many others of course. For instance, the plot and the pace which won’t allow you to put the book down. I only did it because I had to work and sleep (though I didn’t get much of that).
Theme-wise, there are some very nice bits about alienation and being brought up in a world that you don't fully understand or relate to.
Anyway, it’s a highly recommended book if you’re looking for some good stuff to burn through and enjoy immensely. You can kick back and relax, you’re in good hands.

Shannon and Kathryn, you must read this!
Profile Image for Zoë Marriott.
Author 13 books779 followers
March 6, 2011
Sarah Rees Brennan I love you.

When friends of mine raved about your book, I didn't really pay that much attention. I was hip-deep in revisions at the time, and had sworn off new books (being a naturally lazy procrastinator, if I'm faced with a choice between curling up with a book or getting some hard work done, the curling and reading wins every time). Once those revisions were finished, I have to admit that I forgot about the recommendations I'd heard heaped on THE DEMON'S LEXICON. I am sorry. I am not worthy.

Then I happened to catch sight of TDL during a mammoth book-buying session, and on a whim, I picked it up. I cannot express how glad I am that I did. Your book rocked my world Sarah Rees Brennan. It made me snork with laughter. It made me cry. I made me think deeply. It challenged my preconceptions, played with my prejudices and, in the end, left me feeling transformed.

Your writing skill is deeply humbling. I'm not saying that you're a particularly flowery writer. No. You use words as a surgeon uses a scalpel, forcing me to blink in shock again and again as you pierce straight to the heart of the matter. Your plotting is superb. I hear that you credit this to reading all of Agatha Christie's books? You do yourself an injustice. I too have read all of Ms Christie's works, and I cannot plot as you do. I'm also in awe of the depth and compassion in your characterisation. I loved and hated the characters in THE DEMON'S LEXICON, but more than that, I understood them. Each of them, good, bad or intriguingly in-between, had a stunning emotional truth.

The fact that you accomplished all this in your first book? Frankly, shows me how very deeply I fail as a writer. But it also inspires me to keep trying to improve my own craft so that one day a story of mine will make someone feel the wonder, the shock, the joy and sorrow that THE DEMON'S LEXICON made me feel.

In Summary: if you are reading this review, and you are not Sarah Rees Brennan, please go and buy this book. Now. If you are reading this review and you ARE Sarah Rees Brennan, please, write many more books. I don't urge you to write faster, to pair up any particular couple, or to keep writing sequels set in this world. No. I just beg you to keep writing for as long as I'm alive, and to please outlive me. You're a year younger than I am. It shouldn't be difficult.

Profile Image for Rachel Hartman.
Author 10 books3,809 followers
February 6, 2012
That's a hard-earned three stars, there. That is to say, the book came back from a deficit. There were several times when I was pretty sure this was going to be a DNF for me. I figured out the twist about halfway through. By the end, though, the brothers' relationship won me over. I'm a sucker for siblings, I guess.

I'll be interested to see whether I like the second book better, now that the big "secret" is out in the open. And I wonder (but of course, we'll never know) whether this book wouldn't have been more enjoyable if they hadn't made the secret be the punchline of the whole thing. That's always a dilemma for a writer: when to reveal what. I had to figure that out with my own book, so I'm very sympathetic to the kind of agonizing that goes into it. Still, I think this particular secret is one I would have liked to have known earlier. Waiting all that time to find out wasn't that rewarding (esp. since I worked it out), whereas knowing from earlier in the book would have increased my interest in the character in question (who was really hard to relate to without that knowledge, frankly).

Profile Image for Alex.
8 reviews
August 26, 2009
Am I the only one who thinks that all the hype about Sarah Rees Brennan as a real novelist is just that - hype?

Brennan got famous because she is VERY GOOD at parodying things that other writers actually created. Which is awesome and totally entertaining. But where Cassandra Clare proved that her fan fiction was hinting at immense skill, Brennan...Demon's Lexicon was just boring. Her characters are flat. Her stories are predictable. And...honestly, I just found myself wishing that I enjoyed her writing as much as she *obviously* enjoys it. She should go back to writing about characters created by others and leave the actual creativity to the big boys.

I'm sure I'm not the only one of her fans to have been sorely SORELY disappointed by this book. Maybe I'm just the only one willing to say it in public.

I just wish she'd go back to what she's good at.
Profile Image for Kim.
680 reviews1,690 followers
June 28, 2010
Well.. It took me forever to finish this book but I liked it a lot! But I never had this much trouble to keep reading something that's interesting.

Nick is all kinds of awesome, his brother Alan is a little bit too emo for my taste, but I guess it's normal how protective he feels of Nick.

I can't wait to see what happens between Nick and Mae ^^

It's too damn hot today to come up with a decent review, so this will have to do.
Profile Image for Beth.
184 reviews19 followers
January 31, 2021
these books just make me increasingly insane the more i read them!!!!!
Profile Image for Yaruna Mykytyn.
21 reviews5 followers
March 28, 2021
Читаю вже вдруге, (вперше читала років зо 5 тому) все ще цікаво) Як би я була персонажем, то точно Джеймі😅:

« - На землю, - прошепотів він.
- Давно вже там, - з підлоги озвався Джеймі»

« - Я не дуже звик до ходячих мерців, - пробубнів позаду Джеймі. - Можна, я закричу від жаху?»
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,328 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.