Nick and Alan have spent most of their lives on the run from a circle of magicians led by Black Arthur who seeks a charm stolen by their mother. While fending off an attack from Black Arthur's circle they meet Mae and Jamie, a brother and sister with a problem of their own - Jamie has been visited by demons and they have marked him, a mark that will inevitably lead to his death. Alan persuades a reluctant Nick that they have to help but doing so leads Nick to uncover secrets about his own life, secrets that will make him question everything he knows, including his relationship with his own brother.
Nick is a wonderful character - morally ambiguous, the only two emotions he understands are anger and his devotion to his brother. As the secrets spill out, his confusion and sense of betrayal is very real, as is his clear attraction to Mae, a girl who he knows his brother likes but who he knows is attracted to him. Some of the best scenes are those where Nick seeks to manipulate that triangle to his advantage. Alan is more shadowy and although it may have been better to highlight some of his own moral ambiguity highlighted earlier in the plot, his devotion to both his mother and his brother is strongly conveyed as is a ruthless streak.
Mae thankfully rises above the female cliché of being only a love interest and Brennan allows her to recognise what is happening between the brothers while having her fight for her own sibling. She appears to play a bigger role in the sequel and I look forward to seeing her development. Unfortunately Jamie is the biggest weakness in the book. He isn't given a lot to do in his own right and although he is intended to be witty, his lines are self-conscious and deaden scenes instead of lifting them. A key revelation about him comes late in the novel and while setting up the scenario for the next book, stops the reader from caring about him now.
There are some nitpicks - "blueberry scones" seems to be an Americanism and concerns about a 16-year-old driving underage aren't consistent - and there's an episodic feel to some of the early chapters. However the set piece action scenes are well handled - particularly those involving the Goblin's Market and a type of asylum on the Isle of Wight. All in all it's a solid read and I look forward to reading the next in the trilogy.