by Sarah Rees Brennan
First sentence: “The pipe under the sink was leaking again.”
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Brothers Nick and Alan are on the run from magicians who are hunting them. Have been for most of their lives. That, and taking care of their mother (who was driven mad by magic) takes up most of their time. That is until Mae and her brother Jamie come into their lives. Jamie, it seems, has a third level demon mark, which essentially means he’s ripe for possession.
Perhaps we should take a break here and explain that in this world, demons are spirits who long to possess human bodies and experience human lives. In exchange for this, they grant magicians unlimited power. The magicians don’t really see anything wrong with this, but for Nick, Alan, and their “side”, it’s kind of evil to give away human bodies to demons in exchange for power. I can see their point.
As a result of Mae and Jamie (among other things), Alan gets a demon mark, and so the four of them (unfortunately, in Nick’s opinion) set about trying to remove the marks. This involves hunting down a Circle of magicians and killing a couple, since only a magician’s blood will remove the marks. Thus begins an interesting adventure, full of suspense and intrigue, a bit of romance (and Brennan knows how to write romance), and a spectacular twist at the end, one that, in retrospect I should have seen coming yet it completely blew me away.
The only really drawback is that one of the main characters, Nick, is so very unlikable. It’s a turn off at the beginning of the book; you just want to smack the kid upside the head. But, give it time: he will grow on you, he does have a few redeeming qualities. And then there’s Alan, who’s an enigma: he keeps secrets from Nick, he’s up to something, but you never quite know what. They’re an interesting and appealing pair, these brothers. Mae isn’t too bad herself, either: with her fiery temper and determination (not to mention pink hair).
All of which makes for a very compelling book.