To be brutally honest, the beginning of this book really didn't hook me. Garlin was quite unlikeably selfish and life was a little bit boring. However, you don't have far to go until the pace begins to pick up and you get entirely involved in the story. The characters and the plot were really interesting and exciting, and I really loved how the actions of one teenage boy could escalate into a full blown war. The ending is actually so far removed from the beginning of the book, it began to take on the quality of an epic rather than a YA, which is what some would chalk this up as.
This book has a lot going on, and not least are the themes focused on here. The messages are very clear; not to be selfish, to stay true to ourselves and our family and not to succumb to the will of others. It teaches about how we should value our families and fight to protect them, and let them know we love them, as life is a very fragile state. One other message got through to me: not to judge people by how they look, but by the actions and reasoning. Some people are evil and some are not, but you cannot tar everyone with the same brush.
The characters were amazingly detailed and perfectly rounded. No-one was too annoying and everyone was realistic, including the demons. Each character had their own values and beliefs, and it was nice to see arcs in many of them as opposed to a select one or two as they began to understand the demons and their place in the scope of the country and the world. The demons themselves were surprising and I loved the dynamic between their group as well as between them and the humans. Brask and Devron were both brilliant: their stories were interesting and totally intrinsic to what happens nearing the end of the story, even though at first they seemed like minor characters. Darlee is another very notable character for her amazing strength and loyalty, Despite the fact that Gar isn't very nice to her, she still does everything she can to help and protect him.
The world of Sechland and it's bordering countries is massively detailed, building up an amazing map inside your mind. The workings of the kingdoms, how each of them think and their individual motives, and the use of magic and it's workings was well thought out and seemed very realistic to me. The writing style was really easy to read and the story flowed beautifully once it had built up a bit more momentum.
Just a little warning: This book is more for adults than children as there is a lot of death, violence and sex. There is a couple of torture scenes and a lot of fighting which some may find distasteful. However, die-hard fantasy fans, particularly those who like a bit of high fantasy, will adore this book just as I did.
Reading on from the end of the book, I also found that the author has written more about that world in The Brotherhood of Piaxia, which I am now very interested in reading! This was a really good read and it is highly recommended.
Demon Stones on Goodreads