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The Boy Who Could See Demons: A Novel

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

Praise for The Boy Who Could See Demons
 
“A well written, engaging read filled with compassion for those suffering the whims of an untamed mental illness . . . A poignant read, The Boy Who Could See Demons is a suspenseful novel that probes the issues surrounding the devastating effects of mental illness. The author delves into the psychological issues of schizophrenia and mental disorders with such dexterity it leaves the reader stirred and affected, questioning throughout the story what is real and what is not. . . . As the conclusion draws near, the story takes unexpected turns, making it even more dramatic and compelling.”New York Journal of Books
 
“Impressive . . . Jess-Cooke is every bit as skillful in her vivid portrayals of unworldly beings . . . as in illustrating the dreadful toll taken by mental illness.”Booklist
 
“A searing novel of suspense.”Publishers Weekly

“A psychologically complex thriller, told with compassion in a marvelously suspenseful narrative that keeps you engaged from the first page to the last . . . This book has it all: a dark and dangerous setting, characters full of depth, rich emotions, and a clever plot. You’ll fall in love with Alex—and his demons.”—Chevy Stevens, author of Still Missing
 
“Top-notch psychological suspense . . . Beware what you think you know. It might be only the demons talking.”—Lisa Gardner, author of Touch & Go
 
“Brilliant! Rich with fully formed characters, this heart-gripping novel will keep you riveted from first page to last.”—Jeffery Deaver, author of XO
 
“Utterly captivating, this is a book I adored and savored from the first to the very last magical page.”—Tess Gerritsen, author of Ice Cold

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Child psychiatrist Anya Molokova has been called in to observe and evaluate the case of a ten-year-old boy who has been injuring himself and others in the aftermath of his mother's failed suicide attempt. On the surface, Alex's claim that his imaginary friend Ruen eggs him into violence doesn't seem that extraordinary to Dr. Molokova; in fact, it is not much different from some of the symptoms of her own daughter, who suffers from early-onset schizophrenia. But what begins as a somewhat routine, if horrifying case becomes something far more serious when the mental health professional realizes that a terrifying reality might be all too close at hand.

Publishers Weekly
British poet Jess-Cooke follows her fiction debut, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, with a searing novel of suspense that plumbs a bereaved mother’s anguish. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, has returned to her native Belfast hoping to help heal some of the 20 percent of Northern Ireland’s children who suffer from severe mental health problems. Anya, herself both the child of a suicidal parent and the agonized mother of a schizoid daughter who died tragically four years earlier, becomes professionally and personally involved with Alex Broccoli, a tormented 10-year-old with an imaginary demon friend. Jess-Cooke’s scalding descriptions of Belfast and its mental health care system ring painfully true, but the facile conclusion turns this perceptive exploration of schizophrenia upside down, even as it reinforces the novel’s predominant message—that as another poet long ago made his demon tempter insist, ordinary “reality” can indeed be an inescapable hell. Agent: Madeline Buston, Darley Anderson Literary Agency (U.K.). (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“A well written, engaging read filled with compassion for those suffering the whims of an untamed mental illness . . . A poignant read, The Boy Who Could See Demons is a suspenseful novel that probes the issues surrounding the devastating effects of mental illness. The author delves into the psychological issues of schizophrenia and mental disorders with such dexterity it leaves the reader stirred and affected, questioning throughout the story what is real and what is not. . . . As the conclusion draws near, the story takes unexpected turns, making it even more dramatic and compelling.”New York Journal of Books
 
“Impressive . . . Jess-Cooke is every bit as skillful in her vivid portrayals of unworldly beings . . . as in illustrating the dreadful toll taken by mental illness.”Booklist
 
“A searing novel of suspense.”Publishers Weekly

“A psychologically complex thriller, told with compassion in a marvelously suspenseful narrative that keeps you engaged from the first page to the last . . . This book has it all: a dark and dangerous setting, characters full of depth, rich emotions, and a clever plot. You’ll fall in love with Alex—and his demons.”—Chevy Stevens, author of Still Missing
 
“Top-notch psychological suspense . . . Beware what you think you know. It might be only the demons talking.”—Lisa Gardner, author of Touch & Go
 
“Brilliant! Rich with fully formed characters, this heart-gripping novel will keep you riveted from first page to last.”—Jeffery Deaver, author of XO
 
“Utterly captivating, this is a book I adored and savored from the first to the very last magical page.”—Tess Gerritsen, author of Ice Cold
 
“An absolute chiller, deep, moving, and utterly gripping . . . I was riveted from the unsettling beginning to the mind-bender of an ending. This is a stellar read that will stay with me for a good long while.”—Lisa Unger, author of Heartbroken
 
“A rare and intriguing book, both emotionally and intellectually challenging . . . The cerebral challenge is the puzzle at the heart of the novel: Whose truth is real?”—Helen Grant, author of The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
 
“A stunning story—a well-researched, authoritative delve into psychosis, guilt, and damage . . . thrilling, wholly plausible, and utterly satisfying.”—Julia Crouch, author of Every Vow You Break
 

“Gripping from the opening paragraph to its final revelations, this is a brilliant exploration of the point where imagination, psychology, art, politics, and the supernatural meet and merge in a young boy’s mind. The Boy Who Could See Demons is touching and painfully funny.”—Christopher Fowler, author of The Memory of Blood

Library Journal
Child psychiatrist Anya Molokova has been asked to assess ten-year-old Alex, who claims that the wily demon Ruen is telling him to hurt himself and others. Anguished by her own daughter's early-onset schizophrenia, Anya thinks Alex, too, is hearing voices—then realizes that Ruen might not be imaginary. Great reviewer and reader response where this book has already been published.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345536532
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/13/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 420,574
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Jess-Cooke was born to a musical family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is an award-winning author of poems and novels for adults, as well as four nonfiction books. Her first poetry collection, Inroads, won the Tyrone Guthrie Award, an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Northern Promise Award, and was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award. Her bestselling novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, has been translated into twenty-one languages.

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Read an Excerpt

9780345536532|excerpt

Jess-Cooke / THE BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS

1

Ruen

ALEX

People look at me funny when I tell them I have a demon.

“Don’t you mean, you have demons?” they ask. “Like a drug problem or an urge to stab your dad?” I tell them no. My demon is called Ruen, he’s about five foot three, and his favorite things are Mozart, table tennis, and rice pudding.

I met Ruen and his friends five years, five months, and six days ago. It was the morning that Mum said Dad had gone, and I was at school. A bunch of very strange creatures appeared in the corner of the room beside the canvas we’d made of the Titanic. Some of them looked like people, though I knew they weren’t teachers or anyone’s parents because some of them looked like wolves, but with human arms and legs. One of the females had arms, legs, and ears that were all different, as if they had belonged to different people and were pieced together like Frankenstein. One of her arms was hairy and muscly, the other was thin like a girl’s. They frightened me, and I started to cry because I was only five.

Miss White came over to my desk and asked what was wrong. I told her about the monsters in the corner. She took off her glasses very slowly and pushed them into her hair, then asked if I was feeling all right.

I looked back at the monsters. I couldn’t stop looking at the one who had no face but just a huge red horn, like a rhino’s horn, only red, in his forehead. He had a man’s body but it was covered in fur and his black trousers were held up with braces that were made out of barbed wire and dripping with blood. He was holding a long pole with a round metal ball on top with spikes sticking out of it like a hedgehog. He put a finger where his lips would be, if he had any, and then a voice appeared in my head. It sounded very soft and yet gruff, just like my Dad’s:

“I’m your friend, Alex.”

And then all the fear left me because what I wanted more than anything in the whole world was a friend.

I found out later that Ruen has different ways of appearing and this was the one I call the Horn Head, which is very scary, especially when you see it for the first time. Luckily he doesn’t appear like that very often.

Miss White asked what I was staring at, because I was still looking at the monsters and wondering if they were ghosts, because some of them were like shadows. The thought of it made me start to open my mouth and I felt a noise start to come out, but before it grew too big I heard my Dad’s voice, again in my head:

“Be calm, Alex. We’re not monsters. We’re your friends. Don’t you want us to be your friends?”

I looked at Miss White and said I was fine, and she smiled and said okay and walked back to her desk, but she kept glancing back at me with her face all worried.

About a second later, without crossing the room, the monster who had spoken to me appeared beside me and told me his name was Ruen. He said I’d better sit down otherwise Miss White would send me to talk to someone called A Psychiatrist. And that, Ruen assured me, would not involve anything fun, like acting or telling jokes or drawing pictures of skeletons.

Ruen knew my favorite hobbies so I knew there was something strange going on here. Miss White kept looking at me like she was very worried as she continued her lesson on how to stick a needle through a frozen balloon and why this was an important scientific experiment. I sat down and said nothing about the monsters.

Ruen has explained many things to me about who he is and what he does, but never about why I can see him when no one else can. I think we’re friends. Only, what Ruen has asked me to do makes me think he’s not my friend at all. He wants me to do something very bad.

He wants me to kill someone.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Do you ever have a novel which you cannot put away? One in which

    Do you ever have a novel which you cannot put away? One in which you read the last page and you have to tell the world about it? One in which you want to reread the minute you close the last page? One in which you think about as you open the pages of a new book … even after you are reading the 76th page of that new novel? I feel this way about The Boy Who Could See Demons, I am so excited about this book, I could scream. My only problem is not a lot of people enjoy reading these types of books so my screaming about its greatness, has to be to a selective audience. If you are a person who likes psychological chillers, pick this baby up! Told in alternating chapters, the story is told from the lives of ten-year old Alex and his doctor, Anya. The story opens up with Alex explaining his monster Ruen who appears only to him in the form of four beings. Alex is one courageous child to handle these spirits without going crazy himself. He has a social worker already who is working to protect him but with a mother who is suicidal, his life is not easy. Anya is his new child psychiatrist and she’s new in town. Anya is fighting her own ghosts as she deals with the death of her daughter. As Anya tries to uncover the mystery of Alex’s monster and help with his home situation, Anya has to deal with her own issues to see the full picture.
    I loved the alternating chapters as I pieced together where Ruen came in on Alex’s like and what part he played for him. Finding out about Anya’s life also was like reading two stories and how she was also healing at the same time she was helping Alex. I was so engrossed in this book that I could not put it down. I can’t say enough about this book. When I was finished, I was left shaking my head, really!?! A masterpiece, I say. I needed to wipe this grin off my face – wow! Take a breath….I just hope other readers get the same reaction as I did. Now to see if I can get this reaction off another one of her books.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 20, 2013

    Incredibly well thought out concept. In her own way the author h

    Incredibly well thought out concept.
    In her own way the author has shone the light on an issue, which I personally believe doesn't get the attention it deserves.
    The mental health medical care situation in N.Ireland is lacking and antiquated, much like their views on abortion. The time of The Troubles, as they are called, have left a huge impact on their society. Globally everyone will be aware of the actual events, but how many of us realise that the trauma of those events have left their imprint on younger generations. The children and family members of those targetted by violence. The country has seen a high rise in mental health issues related to post traumatic reactions.
    I do not under any circumstance want to appear as if I have forgotten the flip side of the coin, ergo any non NI persons who were involved and whose families are just as traumatised by the violence. This book features in NI so I will stick to that.
    The main character is a young boy, who is either suffering from schizophrenia or just happens to be able to see demons. That question or rather the answer to it is handled like an excursion on a tightrope. The belief in the demon or devil draws you in only to be dispersed by common sense and medical knowledge. The psychiatrist treating him has personal demons of her own and saving the young boy has her crossing the boundaries both personally and professionally.
    That story on its own was intriguing and I found myself taking an interest in his well-being.
    Then the plot takes a gigantic swivel and literally implodes.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    It was clever, sad, disturbing and emotional all at the same time.
    It also wasn't anything like I expected it to be.
    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 18, 2013

    Unexpected & intriguing

    Very interesting story told from different view points of well developed characters. Excellent insight into psychological diagnostics with a completely unexpected twist! Although set in Northern Ireland with many strong references to socioeconomic issues the basic plot translates to nearly any poor, working class area.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 18, 2013

    Strikingly different and well written. The author did a superb j

    Strikingly different and well written. The author did a superb job of using Northern Ireland history and its impact on the present generation to base the fictitious story. It was a unique and successful undertaking. 

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2014

    Brilliant

    A must read. Beautifully written.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Excellent

    Kept me on edge

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    Great read - disappointed by the ending

    I really enjoyed the book until the end! Was not happy with the way the author chose to end

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    Couldnt put it down

    Loved it

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 20, 2014

    Recommended, with reservations

    I am in the process of reading this book right now.
    It takes a couple of chapters to understand what's going on, but I like the way the author informs you of whom the chapter is centered on;
    If it weren't for this, it would be hard to follow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    Starts well, ends not so well

    The book starts well--characterization is well done, sharply drawn (although the language is not particularly scintillating), well-plotted, all of it holding the reader's attention and making him or her care about what happens to the characters. There is even the threat of some depth, as the characters begin delving into serious theological and philosophical writers and questions. I for one would've appreciated more material of that kind, and religious and philosophical exploration of all that the title of the book intimates. Sadly, I can only say (without spoiling the end completely) that the plot twist at the end pretty much felt cheap and useless. Maybe this was because the end was written with an eye towards bringing the book to a quick resolution (did the writer or the editor run out of steam? Maybe the writer was facing a deadline--who knows?) In any event, I found the ending profoundly disappointing and abysmally underwritten in comparison to the first 3/4 of the novel. There was much more territory that could've been explored in the ending the author chose; instead, the book comes to a quick and, to my mind, at least, unsatisfactory conclusion. So I can recommend the first three-quarters; you'll have to decide about the rest on your own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    It looks and sounds Ok.

    Mabey i'll look it up. Who knows

    1 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2014

    James

    Waits.

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  • Posted July 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

          The Boy Who Could See Demons is a phenomenal psychological

          The Boy Who Could See Demons is a phenomenal psychological thriller written with a fluent rhythmic prose and a storyline that will haunt you in the most delectable ways. Carolyn Jess-Cooke has emerged from a background of poetry and created a novel-sized masterpiece that will leave you breathless. This is one of those books that will cause you to slowly and carefully turn the last page and soak in the richness of everything you just experienced. It's one of those books that requires a "moment of silence" after you've finished reading it. I don't think I can stress how brilliant I found this book.

         Dr. Anya Molokova is a psychiatrist who is treating a young boy with a troubled disposition and the ability to see demons. However, Anya is also fighting with demons of her own kind after acknowledging the 4 year anniversary of her schizophrenic daughter's death. For those who are fascinated by psychological thrillers, the journey through the boy's treatment and the family dynamics integrated into the story will leave you reeling with questions and eager to turn the next page.

         There were so many elements of The Boy Who Could See Demons that I devoured while reading. The consistency of the text was spot on, and the reader has something to learn in the process. It was enchanting to absorb the mind of someone who suffers from mental illness. The author clearly did her research and opened a whole new territory of reality to her readers who may not have experienced situations such as these. I love books that keep me curious and asking questions.

         I will note that there are two versions of this book. There is a UK version and a US version. The two are similar other than their covers, and most importantly, their endings. They are the same book until you reach that final chapter. Apparently, the author rewrote the ending when it was released in the US. Now, I haven't read the UK ending, but I've read about it. I won't give any spoilers, but there are some controversies about how the book ended. My opinion? I LOVED the US ending. I thought the book was brilliant before, but after that...it raised to a whole new level brilliance that I could barely even comprehend. I hope to somehow get a chance to read the alternate ending so I can compare.

         If you like to delve into the mind of those suffering from mental illness, and enjoy a good mystery and suspenseful plot-twist written by a true word-painter...then you need to grab yourself a copy of this book! I had received a copy for my eReader, but I've already purchased the hardcover for my own personal library and recommended it to several of my Social Work friends. 5 bright, shiny, red giant stars!

    See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    DRACO TOWER

    A large tower were a dragon egg and her mother is

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Enjoyed it

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Good deal.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    Pageturner

    .

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    Worth the read but...

    I was captivated by the whole book until the end. It's worth reading, I just wish it had a different outcome. Others might like it tho.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    Interesting read

    A little like "Sixth Sense". Easy, fun read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    Had a hard time reading

    I read all of the reviews and was hoping to be blown away. I was not. It just got boring to me. And the ending? Just blah.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Wow

    Plot twist!!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews

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