Study Guide

The Demon's Lexicon Introduction

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The Demon's Lexicon Introduction

Brothers Nick and Alan Ryves are just a couple of regular guys who keep swords under their kitchen sink and knives sheathed against their ankles, wrists, and other easily accessible body parts. Why? They're being hunted by magicians. That's right—magicians. 

Yeah, we know. That doesn't sound like much of a threat if the word magician makes you think of a guy in a flowing white silk shirt doing card tricks or the Amazing Mumford, but trust us—these magicians put the scar in scary.

For one thing, they can summon and control demons, and for another, they're power hungry. What makes it even worse for Nick and Alan is that they have something the magicians want— something they'll do whatever it takes to get. Plus the Ryves brothers are pretty much on their own. Dad died eight years ago, and though Mom's still there, she's not all there, if you get our drift, so she requires more help than she offers.

Thankfully Alan (who's nineteen) can cook and shoot, and Nick (who's sixteen) is adept at plumbing and melee combat, so they've been getting by. But when two more teens with inadequate parental support come on the scene, things get a lot more complicated: we're talking love triangles, sibling rivalry, sultry dances, secrets and lies, demon possessions, death threats, exorcisms (mercifully without spinning heads and green vomit), and some great plot twists and turns.

What's more, this is book one of a trilogy, so if you like it, there's more to be had. Sarah Rees Brennan published The Demon's Lexicon in 2009 and has since followed it up with two more books: The Demon's Covenant in 2010, and the final installment, The Demon's Surrender in 2011. We don't know about you, but we love us a good trilogy.

What is The Demon's Lexicon About and Why Should I Care?

Aside from the fact that this book has a cool title (isn't lexicon a great word?), you should care because Nick, despite being a very unique individual, is also the quintessential adolescent. He's trying to figure out who he is, why he is, and where he belongs. He's confused about relationships and love, his role in his family, and the extreme emotions (or lack thereof) that drive him (or drive him crazy) in various situations.

Does any of that sound familiar? No? Well then how about this:

Nick and the other characters wrestle with moral dilemmas that have plagued people for ages—dilemmas that your teen or pre-teen brain, or hey, perhaps your twenty-five-year-old brain (according to some psychologists adolescence lasts until age thirty-four) is also grappling with:

  • Is it ever okay to hurt or kill another person?
  • Is torture justified if it helps gain information that prevents a crime?
  • What is it that really separates humans from animals?
  • Are there people who simply can't live among others? And if so, what should be done with them? Should they spend their lives in prison? Should they be killed?

It's tempting to view some of these issues as black and white, but Sarah Rees Brennan does a great job of exposing the gray areas that our gray matter sometimes can't—or doesn't want to—see.

So yeah, you should care because reading The Demon's Lexicon might inspire you to face (or at least consider) a few of your own demons.

The Demon's Lexicon Resources


Sarah Rees Brennan
Want to read SRB's bio? How about her blog? Want to find out where she's making appearances? Then be sure to check out her website.

SRB is definitely savvy to all of the potential social networking sites out there. Don't believe us? Check out her Tumblr page.

Whose Space?
SRB's space. Yep, she's there, too.

Simon & Schuster
SRB's author page at S&S features a Q&A with the author, a video in which the author discusses The Demon's Lexicon, and much more.

Movie or TV Productions

No—Rebecca isn't in any way, shape, or form an adaptation of The Demon's Lexicon. What it is though, is a brilliant film adaptation of the Gothic novel of the same name by Daphne DeMaurier, which if you like Gothic lit, is worth a watch.

The Sixth Sense
If you liked the twists and turns in The Demon's Lexicon, you're bound to enjoy this 1999 film from M. Night Shyamalan.

Articles and Interviews

SRB Answers Six Questions
A great article from in which SRB declares that girls are people, explains her love of mysteries, and discusses YA Lit, Sci-Fi Fantasy, and the common patterns of trilogies.

The Big Idea
Sarah Rees Brennan guest blogs about bad boys on John Scalzi's blog Whatever.


Girls in the Stacks
An entertaining and humorous interview with SRB in which she discusses intelligent female characters, including—of course—Mae.

Part II
An addendum to the Girls in the Stacks interview (above) that includes "the fun questions."


The U.S. Hardcover
Nick Ryves is ready for his close-up on this cover for the U.S. hardcover edition of The Demon's Lexicon.

The U.S. Paperback
The U.S. paperback edition features a rather different Nick, looking much more foreboding with his sword drawn.

The UK Cover
This cover is our favorite to date. Which one do you like best?

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