5.19.2013

The Boy Who Could See Demons, by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. It will be published in the United States on 13 August 2013. (It's already available in the UK.) 

The Boy WhoCould See Demons
Mental illness, if you don't suffer from it yourself, is hard to understand. Even if you have a relative or close friends who has one, it's near impossible to put yourself in the mindset of someone who--for examples--sees or hears things that aren't there, has such awful depression that they can't keep a job, or has a dread of social situations to the point of having panic attacks. Carolyn Jess-Cooke's The Boy Who Could See Demons, though, does an amazing job of showing you the world through the eyes of a character who suffers from schizophrenia.

The boy in question, Alex Connolly, believes that he can see a demon named Ruen. The demon appears in four unpleasant guises and claims to be studying Alex to find out if the boy really is untemptable. Alex and his depressed mother live in a council house in Belfast. After one more suicide attempt by his mother and because of his own disturbing assertions, Alex is assigned to be evaluated by child psychiatrist Anya Molokova who, in spite of her name, is also a Belfast native. Anya's daughter, now dead, suffered from early onset schizophrenia, giving Anya some more metaphorical demons to wrestle with. The story is told in alternative excerpts from Alex and Anya's journals.

Alex's story is absolutely compelling, to the point where I started to wonder if Jess-Cooke wasn't going for something a little more fantastic. Alex's demon knew about things that Alex shouldn't have known. The Boy Who Could See Demons becomes more and more tense as events become less explicable, even with the diagnosis of the notorious schizophrenia. The best thing about this already great book is the ending. I did not see that ending coming.

But I will say no more, because that would just ruin the experience.

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