Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons (Carolyn Jess-Cooke)

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Psychological Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: August 13, 2013
Format: Hardback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 288
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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

I first met my demon the morning that Mum said Dad had gone.

Alex Connolly is ten years old, likes onions on toast, and can balance on the back legs of his chair for fourteen minutes. His best friend is a 9000-year-old demon called Ruen. When his depressive mother attempts suicide yet again, Alex meets child psychiatrist Anya. Still bearing the scars of her own daughter’s battle with schizophrenia, Anya fears for Alex’s mental health and attempts to convince him that Ruen doesn’t exist. But as she runs out of medical proof for many of Alex’s claims, she is faced with a question: does Alex suffer from schizophrenia, or can he really see demons?


“I feel the human mind is a jigsaw puzzle that I will never be able to solve.”  

This book blew me away.

If you’re looking for a mild cross-over between Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend and Gone Girl, The Boy Who Could See Demons is something worth checking out.I found a hardback copy of this book at a local bookstore called BookXcess, and after remembering someone recommending it to me on Instagram, I picked it up.

And man was I glad I picked this up.

This book is truly something different. It focuses mainly on mental health issues among children and adults, and its consequences to the patients’ every day lives. What made it so enjoyable to read was the alternate POVs between Alex Connolly, the 10-year-old boy who claims to be  friends with a demon called Ruen, and Anya, the child psychiatry assigned to treat Alex. The alternate chapters giving views from both child and adult were so flawlessly done that I breezed through this book easily. I felt so deeply connected to Anya who lost her daughter, Poppy, to schizophrenia and also to Alex, who felt so out of place in his school and life that he has no friends other than Ruen.

This book will grip you hard as the plot thickens towards the end. You won’t be able to put it down because while you’re reading about the terrible living situations of patients suffering schizophrenia, you’re also rooting for Alex and his mom to come out from whatever hell hole they’re found themselves in. What Alex goes through feels so raw and emotional that I can’t help but to empathize with him and hope that Anya will be able to help him in the end.

Alex’s friendship with Ruen was written so well that there were many disturbing moments described. How Ruen tried numerously to influence Alex to do terrible things and leading him to think the worst of himself. It reminds me of how every one of us has a demon with us that can whisper such negative things and bring us to destruction if we gave it the control to.

“Nobody needs to be taken to Hell to experience it. We just grow despair inside the soul until it becomes a world in and around a human.”

The ending blew my mind away. It was totally unexpected and I applaud the author for doing such a wonderful job in keeping the plot suspense and full of surprises. We arrive at a reality of sorts where everything we sense and perceive is questioned as real or imagination.

“Sometimes the imagination is the true predator.”  

I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking to learn more about mental illnesses and have a little thrill thrown into the mix!

RATING: ★★★★★


5 thoughts on “Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons (Carolyn Jess-Cooke)

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