by: Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Delecourt Press New York, NY 2012
Alex sees demons. This is established from page one of the story. One of those demons is his friend. The demon has several different forms, depending on his mood and sometimes he asks Alex to do bad things. Anya is a psychiatrist with a specialty in childhood schizophrenia. She takes Alex’s case, even though the call comes in on the anniversary of her own daughter’s death.
This sounds like a straightforward case study, it’s anything but that. The story takes place in Northern Ireland. Through Michael, Alex’s social worker, we get a sense of how these children carry trauma from living in a war zone. Even the children who have never been directly exposed to “the troubles” are affected by them. It’s heart-wrenching.
As the story progresses we also learn more about Anya’s troubles. Apparently the reason she pursued this career is because of the schizophrenia in her own family. She blames herself for not being able to recognize and support her own daughter’s struggles with the disease. She blames herself for leaving her daughter alone long enough for her to jump out the window.
Alex’s demons are a mixed bag. Yes they do encourage him to do bad things, but only to bad people. The most dramatic incident is when the demon prompts Alex to kill the mother of his friend who is clearly being abused. Alex’s failure to act on this prompting ensures more damage to his friend.
This is a very well written, very compelling piece. Just when I thought I had a handle on the story it took a new turn. It is haunting, and the characters pull on your heartstrings. This is a thought-provoking novel that continues to stay with me. I highly recommend it.