The Demon’s Covenant

The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees BrennanBy Sarah Rees Brennan [LibraryThingGoodReads]

Mae’s life has changed forever now that she knows about magic — about demons and magicians — but now that her magic-wielding brother Jamie is safe, she thought they were done with that world forever. Then she sees Jamie cavorting with Gerald, the magician who took over the Circle trying to kill them, and she has to call the brothers Alan and Nick again. Except they’ve changed: Nick’s new powers are limitless, and there’s some kind of wedge between him and Alan now. Now, Mae has to figure out what the magicians are up to, how to get Jamie away from them, and how to save Nick from the magicians too — and save Nick from himself.


Wow, that was a crap summary. Sorry!

When I reviewed The Demon’s Lexicon earlier this year, I wrote about my biggest issue with the book being the narrator, Nick:

I think Brennan walks a very fine line with Nick. He’s not a character people should be able to identify with, but having a completely non-empathetic protagonist could also make it hard to enjoy the story, since it’s entirely told through Nick’s POV. ….

Nick’s POV is uncaring, so it isn’t like he asks other characters what they’re feeling or why, how they’re doing, how they got to be the way they are. Because he never gets into anyone else’s head — he just doesn’t care — the reader doesn’t get to, either. I felt somewhat cut off from the supporting cast throughout, which included characters I probably would have otherwise been able to empathize with.

So hey, it turns out I was dead right! I mean, about my preferences as a reader, if nothing else. This book is from Mae’s POV, rather than Nick’s, and I liked reading about her much better. Mae is an interesting character; she’s the only one of the four protagonists (or the villains, for that matter) who doesn’t have any useful training: she’s not magic like Nick and Jamie, and she’s not a trained fighter like Alan. But she’s bold and determined to get all of them (especially Jamie) through things alive. She plans, she finds allies, she risks herself to save other people. All that is pretty great, and she makes for a dynamic protagonist. Which is great! Which is why part of the climax really bugged me.

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There was one other plot point near the end I took some issue with: show

There was one serious positive, though. I’m always pleased when I run across a book with a GLBT character who’s a) well written, and b) whose sexuality is a facet of the character, and not his or her entirety. I felt that Jamie was well done in that regard — him being gay was certainly A Big Deal, in that it came up repeatedly, but I thought it was interesting that the big coming out scene was about magic, not sexuality. And I liked that hey, Mae wasn’t the only one who made stupid choices because of her crush on a not-so-great guy.

Speaking of romances, I was pretty… meh about Mae and Nick, overall. I’m not a shippy reader, and broody bad boys don’t do it for me overall. I wasn’t made uncomfortable by their dynamic, but I can certainly see a case for Nick leaning towards Cullen-esque behavior. It didn’t ping my radar as I read, but in retrospect I’m not thrilled by it.

As a whole, this book was a reasonably fun read, but it also read very much as a second book to me — its primary purpose was to put things in play, move characters from Point A at the end of the first book to Point B for the series climax. (I read it a month or so ago and could barely remember what the actual plot was when I started this review.) Brennan’s writing and world building remain great, and Mae was a fine character. I’ll definitely pick up the series conclusion when it comes out, so the book earns three and a half cupcakes.

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    One Response to “The Demon’s Covenant”

    1. […] on this one were similar: I liked the narrator better, but felt the story wasn’t as strong. My full review is over at Active Voice. Share and […]

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