Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Boy Who Coukd See Demons: Carolyn Jess-Cooke, October 2—10, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
The Boy Who Coukd See Demons is narrated alternately by Alex himself, and his child psychologist Anya. Alex hails from Northern Ireland, raised post-Troubles by a depressive, suicidal mother and in the absence of a criminal and potentially deceased father. Anya, for her part, had a schizophrenic daughter until she killed herself too. There’s some self-harm and abuse from supporting characters who don’t want to be left out of the misery.
Despite the frankly bleak synopsis, Demons is full of heart. It’s about resilience and moving on. Whether Alex really is seeing a demon called Ruen is, in fact, not the major issue. He might be schizophrenic, or delusional, or utterly sane. You’ll change your mind as you go through. What’s for sure is the pain he’s endured and the effect it’s had on him, and what’s up for grabs is what happens next.
Anya disageees with colleagues about Alex’s care. The best treatment is residential; tearing apart the family is controversial. It’s a debate that’s fascinating to watch unfold, the unfashionable view coming from a first-person narrator is bold.
Jess-Cooke captures two very different voices for her leads. Alex is articulate and funny, somewhat naive and a big fan of onions on toast and a quiet life. Anya is haunted but determined, tenacious and formidable. Two extremely strong characters and both equally authentic in their narrative, compelling to read and easy to invest in.
Demons tells a story that will challenge and move you, and despite the suffering at is roots, it should show that while there is life, no story is over.