Demons’ Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
“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.” From the opening lines of this supernatural novel, the author hooks the reader with the seemingly normal co-existence of magic and mortal worlds. Nick and Alan have spent their lives running from magicians who are seeking the boys’ mother and a charm that she stole from the magician, Black Arthur. The magicians and demons have driven their mother mad and killed their father and continue to hunt the family
Complicating matters is the introduction of Jamie, who has been marked by demons and his sister Mae who come seeking help from Nick and Alan. Alan’s natural empathy results in disaster when he too is marked, and Nick will do almost anything to save his brother.
The four set out to kill a magician as this is the only way that Alan and Jamie can be saved. As they delve deeper into the chase, Nick uncovers several inconsistencies in past experiences with his brother, which lead him to believe that Alan has been lying to him.
Nick is right about the lying, but the twists and turns that the author introduces are totally unexpected and quite horrifying. The intertwining of human qualities and emotions with the cold and raw realities of Brennan’s magical/demonic world make the story a gripping and compelling read.
While the story is complete in itself, there is lots of room for the all kinds of adventure in the books that will follow.
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco Stork
Pancho and DQ are both facing death – DQ because he is suffering from a rare form of brain cancer, and Pancho because he has decided to avenge his sister’s murder. The two teenage boys come together in New Mexico at a Catholic orphanage.
Pancho has not had an easy life. –Motherless at a young age, his father is killed in a freak accident at work because of an alcoholic co-worker, and his developmentally delayed sister is murdered. When Pancho arrives at the orphanage we meet a boy with little concern for himself or fear for consequences, as he plans to get his sister’s killer.
DQ was dumped at the orphanage when his single mother who suffered from a bi-polar disorder realized she could not care for him. After many years, seeking medical help and finding herself in a happy marriage she finally decides to come back for DQ, who does not wish to reconcile with her. When DQ is diagnosed with a rare brain cancer she decides to try to take over his care, as he is still a minor and must succumb to her wishes.
The third character whose story intertwines with the others is Marisol, who becomes the object of both boys’ affections. She works at a home for children who are ill with cancer, where DQ and Pancho come to stay.
DQ has written a “Death Warrior’s Manifesto” which outlines a set of rules for living, accepting the certainty of death, and not wasting time on bitterness or living half-heartedly. The changes that these teens influence in each other sets the scene for possibilities that are at times poignant, occasionally humorous, and often dramatic.
As Pancho plans and contemplates his revenge, and DQ tries to emancipate himself from his mother’s care, this slightly sentimental story takes a fairly predictable, yet highly compelling road to an open, yet satisfying conclusion.
And the winner is...
Tough decision!! I enjoyed both books but found that the intended audiences were very different. I wouldn't say that I loved either, yet I would have no trouble recommending either to different students. I think, based upon mass appeal, I would have to choose The Demon's Lexicon.