Thank you Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell via NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!
The Boy Who Could See Demons is a story that brings several weighty topics into the forefront for discussion – The Troubles (violence and conflict in Northern Ireland) and the affect it had on those who lived through it, mental illness in both adults and children – especially schizophrenia, and recovery from intense tragedy.
Alex is a 10-yr-old boy who sees demons. One, Ruen, even speaks to him and proposes friendship. The demons began showing up several years in the past after Alex experienced the loss of his father under extreme circumstances. His mother, Cindy, barrels down a road of deep depression, self-harm and even suicide attempts.
Anya Mololova, child psychologist, is battling some of her own past after losing a child who suffered from mental illness. As she works through Alex’s and Cindy’s issues, her past begins to unravel and come back to her in haunting clarity. She struggles with Alex’s similarities to her daughter, Poppy, as well as with the distinct possibility that Alex may indeed be seeing and interacting with an actual demon.
Jess-Cooke tells the story in chapters that alternate between Alex’s point of view and Anya’s. This format just seems to work for me – I love hearing stories from two central voices. The distinct differences in addition to the rare similarities really brings the story to life for readers – it brings all sides together in the middle.
I really liked Alex from the beginning. His simplistic and childish voice brings heart and credence to the story. However, I never really got attached to Anya, which in this tale, I find odd. I can’t pinpoint anything specific – the author is a creative, descriptive, and good writer – but I never really felt emotionally involved with her. Her story and her emotions somehow fell flat for me.
Due to the lack of connection with a character who is sharing the central story, I never really felt pulled into the tale. There were a few heart-pumping moments, but nothing that made me excited to get back to the book or gave me reason to push through even when other life duties call (this wasn't a stay-up-after-bedtime book or a forget to eat book in other words).
As the book began to come to an end, there were indeed some twists, but once again, I found myself moving on from the twist and just wanting to be done. The book wasn't bad necessarily. I did enjoy reading it, definitely think those that find the synopsis interesting should give it a try, but it won’t be one that I proactively recommend.
I was provided an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.
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