The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you want dark, broody teenage angst this is your book. There is magic in the air and most of it is ominous in Jimmy Cajoleas novel The Good Demon. If you take the idea of being at one with yourself and by representing all your emotions (including the bad ones) as yourself, plus a demon that lives inside of you, then this will intrigue you. Two questions then come to mind: What happens when someone takes that demon away? And what would you do to get that part of yourself back?
There are some very good metaphors and comparisons in the context of The Good Demon that relate directly to what I recall it being like to be a teenager. There are also moments where I feel like the demon is displaying what I want to even do today (like smack someone for being a jerk). This unique take on our extreme emotions being acted out by a demon that controls our body (when it chooses to) is a great example of what things like rage, anxiety, stress and other mental health issues can cause. Where it's really no longer us as the person making a rationale decision to act. Instead it's the disorder itself taking over. I loved the parallels that could be found in Cajoleas Gothic story. The ending really is the icing on the cake here to all the comparisons, moments and struggles throughout The Good Demon.
Dark and Creepy
There is no doubt this is a young adult horror novel. We meet demons (of course) and magical occult figures that are likely not out to make your life better per say. Easily my favourite part of the book is the One Wish Man. I imagine Doug Jones playing this role (were this a movie) where the One Wish Man has long, unnatural fingers, is lanky in height and overall just seems a bit too odd to be entirely human. As I adore the work of Jones in many TV shows and movies this really enhanced my experience of the One Wish Man. I so rarely see characters as real life people but this one was just so distinctly described that I knew it couldn't be anyone other than Jones.
It's difficult to have friends when you are in a dark, foreboding space. We've all seen this either first hand or witnessed someone else do it. Someone sabotages the friendship for no real reason other than they need to lash out at someone. Cajoleas does a good job of setting up our lead gal with the preacher's son in an unlikely, yet perfect, friendship. It also opens the door for each of our main teens to react to one another as both friends, possible romantic partners and as diametric opposites of good and evil. There is also a final test to this friendship that has no bearing on 'love' or romance that I really liked the spin of.
If you'd like to read a Gothic teen book this definitely fits the bill. Just know that there is a lot of implied, and obvious, mental health disorders addressed including: depression, anxiety and expectation stress. There is a 'first time' sex scene in it but it's nothing graphic in my opinion.
While perhaps not a five star book I would say that Cajoleas has brought us a unique teen perspective to looking at our inner voices and determining if they are our own or those of a demon.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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