Nick’s family has been on the run from magicians his whole life. His father is dead, and his insane mother hates him—she starts screaming if he touches her. After Nick’s protective older brother is marked with a demon sign that means death, danger is unavoidable. The only way to erase the sign is to kill a magician.
As Nick and his brother play a deadly cat and mouse game with the magicians, Nick begins to suspect that everything his brother has told him about their past is a pack of lies. Not knowing whom to trust or where to turn, he walks into a trap—and a startling revelation that changes everything he’s ever believed.
From School Library JournalStarred Review. Grade 9 Up–In this riveting debut novel, 16-year-old Nick and his older brother, Alan, are accustomed to life on the run. Since their father was murdered, the boys have been forced to slay demons set on them by magicians seeking the powerful charm stolen by the boys' mother. Nick is furious when Alan receives a first-tier demon mark while saving a neighborhood boy. While seeking to remove it, Nick begins to suspect that his brother is lying to him about the reason for the magicians' attempts to kill them and about why their mother screams whenever Nick touches her. Fans of the Supernatural television series will be hooked from the novel's opening lines (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.). Even teens who don't consider themselves genre buffs will appreciate the solid writing, fast-paced plot, and sense of authenticity that Brennan gives to the shadowy world between ordinary, modern-day London and the otherworld of demons and magicians. Though Nick and Alan's story is mostly resolved with Nick discovering the truth behind his father's death and his mother's fear of him, readers will no doubt clamor for the next book in this planned urban fantasy trilogy.–Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From BooklistWhat if the bad-boy hunk in your class was actually a sword-wielding demon slayer? That’s the enticing scenario offered up in Brennan’s debut, and although the results are periodically workmanlike, they will satisfy the legions currently clamoring for this brand of dark fantasy. Nick (the aforementioned hunk) lives with his empty-shell mother and older brother Alan, but they’re constantly on the move as they hunt—and are hunted by—evil magicians and their conjured demons. Their brutal routine is interrupted by the arrival of two teen siblings in need of help, one of whom has been “marked” by a demon for certain death and the other of whom fosters a growing desire for one of the brothers. Though unique, the mythology has some holes and feels needlessly convoluted. That said, Brennan excels when she dwells upon her characters’ more human emotions (desire, loneliness, loyalty), and hits her stride in the final stretch, creating several scenes of unexpected horror and piling on some truly surprising twists. Stick with it, and you’ll be glad you did. Grades 9–12. --Daniel Kraus