The Boy Who Could See Demons
Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell
Bestselling author Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written a brilliant novel of suspense that delves into the recesses of the human mind and soul—perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Unger. The Boy Who Could See Demons follows a child psychologist who comes up against a career-defining case—one that threatens to unravel her own painful past and jeopardizes the life of a boy who can see the impossible.
Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.
But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.
A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Boy Who Could See Demons sets out to challenge the imagination and capture the way life takes unexpected turns. In the best storytelling tradition, it leaves the reader changed.
A fascinating read! I was totally engaged in this story, a story that charts a passage through an alien landscape (Ireland, “The Troubles” and mental illness), territories that are painted in the grim shades of reality yet this is a picture that offers an optimism that speaks of healing and better times ahead.
The characters depicted in this book are both realistic and empathetic. Alex’s mother is depressed, self destructive and cries out for help and yet amongst this gloom her light shines on the son she is proud of, she passionately believes in his ability to rise above the bleakness of his surroundings; a rundown council flat, a life where money is scarce and happiness is even rarer, where onions on toast are gourmet delight. Alex is “different”; there are hints he may be autistic, he may have post traumatic shock, he may be schizophrenic. What Alex is, is talented, innocent, brilliant, comedic and knowing beyond his years. And he can see demons! Dr Anya Molokova is a hero, has risen from her beginnings in poverty, is a talented academic and is the mother of child who had early onset schizophrenia, a child who had taken her own life. How could we not be warmed by her character and her determination to help others? And the minor characters are just as interesting and empathetic.
Jess-Cooke offers the reader a compulsive read; a real page turner. I was convinced by the quiet voice of this sensitive 10 year old, Alex, that demons were real and that he could see and talk to them! I was prepared to believe that Alex had a unique ability such is the convincing writing of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. I was not prepared for the final chapters! What a magnificent twist. I certainly did not see this coming; I could not have predicted this ending. Bravo!!!