Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

Target Audience: Teens/Adults
Genre: Fantasy/Horror

The Demon's Covenant (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy, #2)***Contains Quite a Lot of Spoilers***

I don't know why but i always struggle to write reviews the most about books i truly love, and this is no exception. I'm going to try and do this in a structured, logical way, but if i start babbling, just know it's because i love it so much :-)

To summarise, The Demon's Covenant picks up where The Demon's Lexicon left off, but a little time has passed and things seem to have settled down a bit, that is until Mae discovers that Jamie is in contact with the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, Gerald. Fearing that her brother is being led down the typical magicians path of the murder of innocents in order to obtain greater magical abilities, she contacts Alan and Nick, asking for their help. Alan says he'll come, but you can clearly tell that there's something else going on with them in the background, and when they get there, events get more complicated and sinister, in which the brothers may end up against each other.

One of the most interesting parts for me, were the diary entries made by Alan's father, regarding his days bringing up both Nick and Alan. With Nick's insistency that he can never be human, i found his reaction to some of the diary entries rather contradictory to the point, and i wonder if that was the point. Is Nick more human than he realises? After finishing the novel, i honestly think so, his response to Mae on the roof during the final part of the Diary entry suggests, to me, that he's feeling a lot more human than he was before. Also, towards the end of the novel when he's holding Mae, that too was a major turning point, and took Nick and Mae's characters to a level i hadn't seen before, that along with Mae's confession to herself, had me literally in tears. It was well handled and extremelly emotional.

Alan, in my opinion, had more character in this book. Seeing him make awful decisions and taking so much crap, just to keep Nick alive was heart-breaking, the fact that he knows the decisions he makes hurt others and he can't justify it,yet he just can't lose or leave Nick.
I also knew, from the phone call that Mae made to Alan that something occured between Nick and Alan that upset Alan greatly, and although you find out what this is, you don't witness it. I actually liked that, it was made all the more poigent when Nick describes it later, seeing how much it affected them both, yet their both still together despite whats happened. This called into quesiton so many definitions of the meaning of a family that it made me consider a lot of things, another theme that is stronly re-itterated throughout. Is family to do with blood? is it being with someone and caring about them? or is it much deeper than that, a bond that goes beyond something that can be defined by words? The message i got was that blood is irrelevant (as i took from the difficulties in Mae's family and her mother) but rather, if you really care for someone, wether blood related or not, they are still your family. This to me was emphasised by the fact that a demon (who apparently can't love) still calls Alan his brother.
While on the subject of families, i feel i should mention the relationship between Mae/Jamie and their mother Annabel, as this definately made for one of the main focus points of the novel.
It wasn't blindingly obvious until about halfway through, but by the end, i have to admit, i was left stunned, i never saw what happened coming at all. Needless to say though, Mae and Jamie learned a lot about their mother that neither were aware of, and with regards to that, the growing closeness between Annabel became bittersweet towards the end. (when you read it you'll see why)

With reagards to Jamie, i found his role a lot more pronounced in this book. He grew up a lot and made a lot of tough decisions, and some of the scenes between him and Nick were the funniest ever, and i loved how protective of him Nick became (more evidence to me of Nick's progression into humanity!) Also, watching Jamie's situation with Gerald was fascinating. Clearly torn between his feelings and doing what is morally right, Jamie struggles a bit, but ultimately comes out on top as the bigger person, and i have to admit i really love his character now.

Finally i come to Mae, i'm not sure where to start to be honest. For the most part, it seemed she was torn between Nick, Alan, Jamie and her want to be normal Vs her love of the Goblin market. Stuggling with three guys she likes (Alan, Nick and Seb) she has a tough time of it, and i found where her heart ended up a sort of cruel twist of fate, although one i wanted to happen (because i'm strange like that).
She also displayed some very mature behaviour, making difficult decisions, (not to mention risky ones) left me shocked by how much she'd grown up since The Demon's Lexicon, and i admired her selflessness that she displayed on several occasions despite all the other things going on in her life.
As for her human lessons with Nick, i found those really fascinating, hearing the way she described emotions was interesting and reading about Nick trying to master them. It really does pose the question; What does it mean to be human? A question, as the reader, i was left to conclude for myself. It was even more fulfilling when at the end, Nick takes the initiative in displaying his learned human gestures. i have to admit, i cried on several occasions where those two were concerned.

Okay, so more generally. I LOVED this book (so much so i put loved in capital letters). The plot was twisty and had so many turns i was left stunned on several occasions. The relationships between the characters were complicated and very beautiful. I love a nice complicated romance as well, so reading about Mae and Nick/Alan/Seb was moving, especially when you consider who she realises she loves at the end.

There's no doubt about the fact that this book is both dark and tragic in equal amounts, but there's also no denying that light, love and the importance of family aren't there to balance it out. This is a story that's as much about hope and love as it is about despair and hate, and it's that balance that makes this book so amazing, and quite honestly, i can't wait to see what Sarah Rees Brennan writes next, because she really has outdone herself. Miss Rees Brennan, you are a genius, please keep writing as i really want the next book :-)

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