DeLeeuw's spellbinding debut is told from the point of view of a being who assumes the persona and desires of a boy's repressed self. The mysterious narrator encounters six-year-old Luke in Central Park, where Luke gives him a life and a name, Daniel. Daniel has no memory of consciousness before meeting Luke, but as the story moves forward into Luke's college years, it becomes clear that he has a history distinct from Luke's own. He quickly learns that he's stronger when Luke is troubled, and, luckily, there's much in Luke's life to distress him. Meanwhile, Claire, Luke's divorced mother, runs a publishing company founded by her mother, and when Luke comes across a novel about a doppelgänger the company published decades earlier, Daniel realizes it may offer clues to his own secrets and persuades Luke to destroy it, much to Claire's despair. DeLeeuw delivers a neat bundling of the classic story of a spirit possessing an innocent with the Jungian shadow self, but in the end readers will be somewhat disappointed that he neglects to answer some of the more intriguing questions he poses about Luke's family. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
DeLeeuw's debut novel is a riveting exploration of the dark side of self. Six-year-old Luke is playing in a park when he discovers a new friend, whom he names Daniel. Although no one else can see Daniel, he is not imaginary. He lives with Luke and his unstable mother, Claire, in a luxury apartment in New York. Daniel's existence waxes and wanes, depending on whether Luke needs a companion or is the recipient of his mother's sporadic attention. But after Claire attempts suicide when Luke is a teenager, he allows Daniel to be a stronger presence in his life. Through the end of high school and on into college, Daniel pushes Luke to experiment with drugs and alcohol, to have sex before he's ready, to frighten people, and to cheat and steal. Luke struggles to retain control over his own life while also trying to keep Claire from succumbing to her own doppelgänger. VERDICT Suspenseful and terrifying, this tale about one's shadow self running rampant is highly recommended.Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
DeLeeuw debuts with a strange tale seething with disturbing psychological overtones. We first meet Luke through his chance encounter with Daniel on a playground near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At first the boys seem compatible in every way. They're both imaginative six-year-olds, comfortable playing games in which dinosaurs come to eat them and they save themselves by shooting the creatures with water guns. At her son's insistence, Luke's mother Claire agrees to let Daniel visit them in their posh New York apartment. Just as readers begin to wonder why Daniel's parents never seem to be around and he never seems to have his own home to go to, it becomes clear that Daniel is an imaginary friend who conveniently showed up shortly after the divorce of Luke's parents. He's also the narrator of the novel. Eventually Daniel winds up occupying the no-man's land between doppelganger and Imp of the Perverse, "persuading" Luke to do heinous things like killing the family dog. It's clear that Claire has her own problems when she has a breakdown and threatens to cut herself with shards of glass. After Claire is hospitalized, Luke (and Daniel) go to live with Luke's father and his "new" family, which includes a stepsister Daniel finds thrillingly desirable. As Luke grows up, he cannot shake off the dire influence of Daniel, who becomes increasingly manipulative, forbidding and malevolent. When Luke goes to college, Daniel makes sure he succumbs to the lure of Richard, a charismatic but evil upperclassman who, to put it charitably, does not have Luke's best interests at heart and soon has him snorting coke. Ultimately, Daniel gains more and more control over Luke, finally committing murder. Oncereaders "get it," the narrative conceit becomes less interesting-but Hitchcock would have loved the premise. Agent: Richard Abate/ICM