I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Sarah Rees Brennan is frickin' brilliant. An evil genius to be sure who has managed to infuse her books with such wit and candor that I find myself wholly ruined for anything else. I don't know how the woman does it but she has managed to blow my mind. Yet again. After naming The Demon's Lexicon as my Favorite YA Fantasy of 2009, I began the endless wait for the release of The Demon's Covenant, not quite sure where Ms. Brennan would take me next, but fully willing to stick around for the ride.
Let me also take a moment to verbally adore this astoundingly cool UK cover. Stormy London, Nick kicking somebody's trash on the bridge, and a pink-haired Mae watching it all. It's not the one my copy came with - which makes me infinitely sad - but is most excellent and is the version I NEED for my own collection.
Not much time has passed since Mae and her brother Jamie have returned home after successfully facing down an entire Circle of deadly magicians led by enormously powerful Black Arthur. In her head Mae knows Jamie is now safe, thanks in large part to the help of Alan and Nick Ryves, but Mae can't help but remain tense, constantly looking over her shoulder, waiting for the next attack to appear. When the unthinkable does actually happen and Mae discovers magicians circling Jamie again, she panics and calls the only people who she trusts implicitly to help. Like the cavalry, the Ryves brothers swoop back into Mae and Jamie's life without a thought. Ready to protect, ready to defend. Mae has always had trouble staying in complete control when it comes to Alan and Nick and this time proves to be no different. She's torn and stuck in the middle of their ever-increasingly explosive relationship and above all, ready to do anything to rescue the ones she loves from harms way.
After falling hard for the Ryves brothers in The Demon's Lexicon, I will admit to some slight hesitation upon discovering that The Demon's Covenant centers around Mae. Who I also liked, just maybe not as much. But boy howdy - I changed my mind. There are infinite quotable selections from Mae, but one of my favorites happens when she is heading to meet Alan and Nick for the first time after calling them for help with Jamie.
She went downstairs and told herself with every stop that she was fine, that she had called them because she needed help, that she hadn't particularly wanted to see either of them. She prepared a number of calm and practical things to say.Shivers down my spine and all that. She is something else. Fiercely determined to stick by and protect Jamie, their relationship is something to behold. Truly, Sarah Rees Brennan is a master at crafting sibling relationships because even Nick and Alan take their crazy, volatile brotherhood to a new level. I am over the moon about both those guys. One brother is supposedly the normal, nice, good guy - but who in actuality is a consummate liar; while the other is seen as evil and wicked but who actually cannot lie and is full of loyalty.
When she opened the door and saw their faces, she forgot them all.
She and Jamie had lived with them for over a week; their faces were as familiar to her as old friends', but she hadn't seen them since the day she'd killed someone and they'd found out the truth about Nick. They looked different to her, new even though they were familiar, and she felt new as well, as if she'd been broken apart and put back together with the pieces not fitting quite right. They were real. It was all real, that world of magic so different from the world of Exeter. They were part of magic and of danger and the blood she woke remembering every night.
"Hi," she said, and opened the door to let them in.
"It's good to see you again, Mae," said Alan, and gave her a hug.
She was startled not so much by the gesture as by how it felt. It made her recall her first impression of Alan, when she'd seen a skinny but sort of cute redhead with kind eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses and thought that he seemed nice, harmless and not at all her type.
She knew better now, but there was still a moment of complete cognitive dissonance when he put his arms around her. He looked like one thing and felt quite like another.
His chest and arms were surprisingly hard, lean muscle against her hands, and under his thin T-shirt he was carrying a gun. Mae felt the shape of it press briefly against her stomach.
Alan wasn't harmless. He didn't mind if she knew it.
Bit of a conundrum, ain't it?
And the twists just keep on coming. Once again, Sarah Rees Brennan manages to catch me completely off guard with her unforeseen ending, leaving me shaking my head over the sheer brilliance of it all. I can't even begin to imagine where she plans to go next, but I know I'm in for whatever it is.
series reading order:
~ The Demon's Lexicon - my review
~ The Demon's Covenant
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review & interview
The Book Butterfly review
The Book Smugglers review
Cry Havoc! Book reviews
book source: my local library