Demons and Magicians and Dancers, Oh My

Internets, let’s talk about books, a subject dear to my heart.

Specifically, let’s talk about a book dear to my heart, Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon’s Covenant.

Sarah and I met over the internets via mutual friend and scary brilliant person, Justine Larbalestier. An admirer of Sarah’s work in fiction and non-fiction, especially The Demon’s Lexicon, I had sent her Guardian of the Dead. She liked it! (In fact, she blurbed it, which you can see on the US back cover)

And she emailed me, in return, The Demon’s Covenant.

I was in Oamaru at the time, and the next day I was set to go to Invercargill with my father to visit his father, and pick up my sister from Queenstown on the way home. I talked my mother into letting me print the manuscript on her school computer.

I read it in my aunt and uncle’s house, and stayed up for most of the night babbling to Sarah about how awesome it was. And then I made her tell me the plot of the third book, because I desperately needed to know who was going to live and who die and who was going to romance who. This is not my normal relation to Sarah and spoilers. Usually I have to figuratively gag her to prevent entire plots from spilling out of her figurative mouth. In this case, I shamelessly begged.

I mention the family connections up there, because they were very much on my mind as I read. The Demon’s Covenant is a book about families, about how they are formed and how they are maintained and protected and betrayed. It is a book about lies and promises and the importance of a good plan. It is a book told by Mae, QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE, and it concerns her little brother using his abilities to trust and love against all the evidence to acquire a true friend and a terrible crush. In the middle of a supernatural cold war that is rapidly heating up, because that is just Jamie’s style. It is witty and warm and messes with tropes in a way I adore and is full of ideas that make me squeal and basically I really admire this book.

I love the settings, the solidity of the English settings against the wild glittering magic of the isolated Goblin Markets, and the way that one can suddenly seep into another, as in the very first scene where Mae, heading for a night on the town with school friends, encounters magic in the streets.

And I am head over heels in love with Mae, who is a normal girl in a world of magicians and demons and skilled warriors, insofar as “normal” encompasses brilliance, bravery, wit, charm, ambition, stubbornness, a recognition of her own limits, and a conscious refusal to be sidelined because of them. She is, as Sarah outlines in this awesome post, Ms. Normal in Paranormalandia.

And that is nearly always my favourite girl. That’s why Iris is my personal most-loved character in Guardian of the Dead, and why I love Lucy from My Love Lies Bleeding, and why Quincie P. Morris makes me grin. I love Ms. Normal, probably because if I suddenly discovered the world around me was inhabited by supernatural foes and eldritch powers warring for world domination, my skillset would no doubt still be restricted to such items as “reading very fast” and “baking”. And I would, nevertheless, try to put them to good use, as Mae does with her own skills at strategy and communication in The Demon’s Covenant.

Goodness, I had intended to do one of my blithe summaries in dialogue form, but it appears my love for this series carried me away into more substantial waters. How very unlike me. Maybe later!

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  • Bernard

    I loved this book as well! A friend of mine was at a book signing and actually got to meet Sarah. I’m so jealous. I can’t wait for the third book to come out~