Now on to two of my favorite "D" books:
The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees BrennanGenre: urban fantasy
General premise Nick and his older brother Alan have spent their lives running from magicians who want the charm keeping their mother alive. When Mae and Jamie arrive on their doorstep looking for help, Nick wants to kick them out, but Alan's attempt to help leads to his being marked by a demon. Now the only way to save his life is to fight the magicians hunting them.
Dragon Bones by Patricia BriggGenre: fantasy
General premise For most of his childhood, Ward pretends to be less intelligent than he is, so his father won't accuse him of treachery and kill him. When his father dies and Ward becomes ruler, he learns the family secret about the power available to him from the ghost that isn't a ghost. But Ward's also played an idiot for so long that he's now a target for nobles who think he's incapable of ruling.
I love both of them, but these two protagonists couldn’t be more different. Nick seems like a psychopath at first glance. I believe the author of The Demon's Lexicon said that her idea with Nick had been to write the hot, bad boy that is so common in fiction, without giving him a fairy-tale heart of gold (even though everyone around him wants to think he has a hidden, softer side). Unlike true psychopaths, Nick never lies (and therefore always keeps his word and never makes excuses), and he loves and protects his older brother Alan wholeheartedly. With Nick, what you see is what you get. At least, until you start to understand him. At which point what you see is still what you get, but now there’s nuance and shading to the stark lines of his personality and world view.
Ward, on the other hand, spends a good chunk of the book sacrificing himself for other people, and has cultivated a persona of being both nice and a little slow, so that no one ever actually knows what he’s really like. People don't think he's smart enough to have hidden his real self all those years, and he finds out the hard way that getting a reputation is much easier than changing one.
Both books have humor to balance dark circumstances, great sibling relationships and fascinating family problems. And Patricia Brigg’s unique take on the “family ghost” in Dragon Bones deserves special mention. Writing this reminds me how long it's been since I reread it. If I didn't have a bunch of blog posts to write (and a few letters to read books for asap - K, P, Q, X, Y, and Z, to be exact), I'd reread Dragon Bones right now...