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Never Knew Another by J. M. McDermott
They slip in among the men and women of day to day life, the offspring of demons whose blood is acid and whose very presence can cause a person to sicken. Their deformities, reminders of their demonic heritage, can be hidden like the wings Jona’s mother cut from his back, or debilitating like the long forked tongue, black scales, and talons Rachel’s father left her.
To be a demon child is to be marked for death. So Jona works hard as a Kings Man, passing for mortal day by day. Rachel moves from city to city with her brother, dressed as a mystic, ready to flee in an instant.
Never did either of them know that there were others like them until they met each other.
Never Knew Another is an eerie, beautiful book. The lives of the demon children unfold with a rare delicacy and awareness of just how precarious life is for them. The main narrator is one of two Walkers- wolves that can take the shape of man and who are holy hunters of the demon children- as she moves through Jona’s memories in pursuit of another demon child. It is a point of view that is more alien than that of the demon children themselves, and I think it strengthens the overall pull of the story.
It is a book about fear and loneliness, and need for connection and community and the comfort of things that are familiar. It is eerie and wonderful and will linger with you long after you have turned the last page.