So there are a few books on my NetGalley profile that slipped through the cracks early on in my tenure there, and I decided that if I could, I was going to go back and see about giving them the feedback they deserved. This means I’m spending a lot of time cursing at Overdrive and wondering why libraries can’t just have EVERY BOOK I WANT available. But this one I found, after a bit of sneaky research, and decided sure why not, I’ll give this a whirl.
I have never been more angry that I hadn’t read a book sooner.
The book follows a young boy–I believe he’s ten–named Alex, who keeps company in his home in Belfast with a demon by the name of Ruen. His mother–Cindy–is very unstable and Alex is the classic kid who’s had to grow up far too fast. All while, you know, dealing with a demon. Normal little boy stuff.
In alternating chapters, we see Anya: a psychiatrist assigned to Alex’s case in the wake of his mother’s most recent suicide attempt. After having lost her daughter to early-onset schizophrenia, she starts to see much of the same in Alex, and is determined to help him where she couldn’t help her daughter.
But as the story progresses, there are too many strange coincidences that make Anya start to wonder: how much of Ruen is in Alex’s mind…and how much might actually be real?
It’s very difficult for a book to surprise me. I’ve said the same of movies: there’s only so many plot lines, and I’ve seen most of them. I can generally pick out the twist way before I should. (I’m the kid who figured out the twist in The Sixth Sense in the first scene. Literally.) So I didn’t necessarily think too much about the book as I was reading. It would be a nice read, I could put up a nice review, and move onto something else.
And then I read the book in about three hours.
Bouncing between Alex’s much more simplistic–but still so advanced for his age–narrative of his life at home, with Ruen, dealing with Anya…and then Anya’s more clinical view of the situation and her own mixed emotions on the entire situation, made the whole story very easy to keep going. The plot lines melded into each other, so there was very little back and forth to keep track of, and the setting never jumped around too much. I appreciate this, because with multiple characters (I’m looking at you, GRRM) it’s easy for too many people to be in too many places all at once.
And by the end, you are full invested in each of them, and are hopeful for a happy resolution, and you see all the things that might throw that off course…
I never saw the end coming. I’ve seen a book similar (though I won’t say which, for spoiler purposes) that tried something like this and only made it about halfway there. It was only the very VERY end of that one that somewhat surprised me. BOY WHO COULD SEE DEMONS literally had me staring at my Kindle, slack-jawed, and gasped. I’m not sure when the last time a book made me do that.
I’m so upset I didn’t read this book sooner. If you haven’t already picked this up, you really must go do it now. I was bouncing around in my chair and insisting on telling everything to my housemates when they came in to see what all the fuss was about. Just because it came out three and a half years ago doesn’t mean it’s lost its oomph.
Very moving, and very relatable on a human level. The characters are all so real, even the ones we only see briefly. I would love to see what else this author has done. A+, standing ovation, encore encore. Well done.
(I’m just feeling lucky I’ve had this many five star books all in a row!)
Rating: ***** (Highest Recommendation)