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4.6 out of 5 stars26
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 May 2012
The tie that binds....

I thoroughly enjoyed Carolyn's previous novel and couldn't wait for this book to be released, thankfully I wasn't disappointed. At times it proved to be very sad and disturbing, however it also made me laugh and on occasion feel warm inside. But most importantly of all it was incredibly thought provoking. What if....there is genuine documented cases to support both theories/arguments. I for one am a great believer in the credibility of both.

As before the content of the book is very well put together. Each of the characters personalities oozed from the pages and I was able to connect, in some way or form, with each and every one of them. Yes, even Ruen!
The demonic little beast even managed to fool me on the odd occasion, uncomfortably so, with his false promises and seemingly genuine acts of friendship. When I found myself warming to him in the beginning I had to mentally remind myself of what and who he was, the very essence of evil.

All that aside, in order to successfully combine acute debilitating mental health disorders with the possibility of demonic possession, this book couldn't have been written by a more apt author.

An excellent easy read and well worth your valuble time.
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on 16 August 2013
What a refreshing story this is. Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Alex a 10 year old boy who's got enough family problems of his own without his ability to see demons or is this his way of coping with life and from the perspective of Anya his therapist who has her own problems too.

The story prediominantly deals with mental illness and associated problems. We never know what is going on in someone else's head and it's Anya's job to try and find out what is happening in Alex's head.

Alex's Mum has attempted to commit suicide and it would appear that Alex has taken over the position of Parent or responsible person in this family. Alex is worried that he will be taken in to care and split up from his Mum. Anya does all she can to try and prevent this from happening.

At times the story is dark and the demons do appear to be quite menacing in their hold over Alex and in particular Ruen, who can be very persuasive when getting Alex to do his bidding.

You are drawn in by the characters and as the story moves along you eagerly read each page and in turn each chapter wanting to find out what is going on. Despite the subject matter of mental illness this story is very easy to read, at times a little humourous and is very well written. This is the first book I've read by this Author and I can thoroughly recommend it to others. It will definitely be in my Top 10 books of the year and I give it 10/10.
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on 1 July 2012
This is the story of Alex, a young boy who lives with his mother Cindy in Belfast. Her mum's past has not been joyful, but one thing for sure: She loves his boy. Since his father death, Alex has been having a very good friend, Ruen. Ruen is a demon. He has three appearances and promises Alex he can have whatever he wants, but he has to do Ruen a favour: He has to kill someone. The chapters alternate between the entries in Alex diaries and the point of view of Anya, a psychiatrist who is in charge of this case, after Cindy's third suicide attempt. Her daughter, Poppy, killed herself when she was a girl because she was suffering of skizophrenia. WIth Michael's help, a very keen and professional social worker, she will establish a connection to Alex and try to cure what she thinks is affecting him. But is he really seeing demons and ghosts? Due to some unexplicable events, even the professional adults will start having doubts. The author charms the reader with this fascinating, sometimes funny and sometimes moving story of a troubled boy. A rare masterpiece of awesome sensitivity.
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on 19 June 2012
Many of you may remember my gushing review of The Guardian Angel's Journal last year by the rather talented Carolyn Jess- Cooke. Well I was a little nervous to read her second book and I worried how it would compare. I shouldn't have worried as The Boy Who Could See Demons is very good! In fact, it goes off in a different direction completely yet still keeping that paranormal umbrella hanging down over it.
The story is told from two points of view. Firstly you have Alex, who speaks very maturely for his age, but you realise that this is part of his nature. Secondly you have Anya, the child psychologist, who finds herself struggling to keep a professional attitude to Alex's case, as she witnesses so many similarities between Alex and her deceased daughter Polly. Anya is still grieving and probably will for the rest of her life, but she is attempting to move on and help other children, so that she doesn't have to see another child die in a similar way to her daughter.
Alex is an intriguing and complex character. He is what my mother would call, 'an old soul in a child's body'. He is very advanced for his age of 10, which is probably the result of constantly having to deal with his mother who is struggling to live a normal life. He is mature yet a little geeky at the same time. He wears clothes left by an old man, who was the previous resident in his house, which makes him stand out even more from other children. Although what really makes Alex stand out is his demon, Ruen. Many may call Ruen an imaginary friend, but by the end of the book, I couldn't decide whether he was real or not, which I do believe is the way the author wants you to react. I felt she wanted to leave you questioning the knowledge and antics of Ruen, that appeared to be impossible. I found I wanted to protect Alex. He seemed so vulnerable, almost using his sense of humour to weaken the control of the demons that haunt him. He witnessed things a child should never ever see, so it was not a surprise to see that he was suffering because of it. He is another victim of a time long past.
Northern Ireland is a character in itself within this book. You can see how it is being given a shiny new coat allowing it to move on from the past, yet the old horrors still lurk under the new layer. This book shows that the children of Northern Ireland are still suffering from the events of the past, as they are living with parents who are unable to deal with the events that they witnessed. The parents are crumbling causing the children to fall before they even begin to live. The effects of the IRA still appear to be causing mental explosions among the present generations.
Beneath the plot lies the story of Hamlet, weaving in and out of the scenes helping to explore the themes of madness and treachery. You witness similarities between Alex and Hamlet; both are exhibiting unusual behaviour as they try to deal with the loss of a parent. There are other elements which appear as the story progresses, but I don't want to spoil the plot for you, so you will have to pick those out for yourself. Although Alex's final outcome is so much happier than Hamlet's.
This book is quite disturbing at times. The content deals heavily with child schizophrenia and I found it really left me feeling uncomfortable. Carolyn Jess-Cooke is very good at planting a grain of an idea in your head that will make you scratch and scratch until you come to terms with what you are reading. She doesn't hold back, really making you think and explore the situation. I really do believe that this author has an original voice that needs to be heard.
You can tell the author carried out extensive research while writing this book. The attention to detail was excellent, though at times I did feel a little over powered by the amount of information provided. I found myself getting a little lost as I tried to digest it and take it all in. Apart from that I absolutely loved it!
Carolyn Jess- Cooke is an author I would highly recommend. Her books will make you think. They will teach you to glance past the haze of reality; to examine the grey areas of life where we are unsure of the truth that even science cannot fathom.
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on 31 May 2013

5 out of 5 stars!

The most mind blowing, breathtaking book I have read for a very very long time!

What an incredible journey through psyche, an amazing insight into the world of psychological conditions, whilst also making you question what you know to be real.

I adored all the characters, laughed, cried and absorbed this book, devouring it with relish.

When I first started reading, I described it to my husband as being like a cross between 'The Sixth Sense' and 'About A Boy' Films....but although those connections are there in my mind this book is so so much more on every level. I would love to see this made into a film.

I can't wait to read more by this author, I will seek her work out on every level.

Thank you so much for letting me read your work Carolyn, you truly are a brilliant writer!

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on 29 November 2013
This is the intense story of a little boy who claims to be able to see demons following a traumatic experience with his mothers attempted suicide.

It is written through alternating chapters between the troubled little boy and his psychiatrist.

This story manages to tactfully embrace the topics spirituality, childhood mental illness and the impact of a parents mental illness upon a child. This is done against a backdrop of the lasting effects of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

It is all but impossible not to fall in love with the little boy Alex and his unique take on his surroundings as his story unfolds throughout the novel.

This story causes you to constantly question your own views on mental illness and the concept of spiritual symbolism. A wonderfully unique read.
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on 9 February 2013
This book rattles along at a good pace and I found it a real page turner. I particularly liked the 1st person narrative and the concepts put forward of demons and whether they exist or are a figment of Alex's imagination with the possibility of childhood schizophrenia. At times you never know if things are real or imagined in the story and there were a few parts that were spine tinglingly creepy! When it came to the end however, it was all a little too Hollywood for me.....everything was explained and (nearly) everyone lived happily ever after. I wanted to be left wondering what if and think a darker ending where we have to use our own imagination would have suited the dark subject matter better, but overall I enjoyed this book.
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on 29 September 2013
Mental illness, poverty and death are not the most uplifting subjects for a novel, but the optimism and love that shines through from the principal characters lifts this story onto a higher plane.
Very original in its concept it makes the unbelievable almost believable. I would have given it five stars if it wasn't for the slightly hurried Hollywood ending. But even that... Hey we all like a happy ending right?
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on 8 February 2014
A fast-paced psychological drama which had me constantly thinking, unable to decide if we really were looking at supernatural forces or simple the mind of an appealing but deeply troubled child. Fantastically diverse, well-drawn characters had me yearning for a better life for all.
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on 24 October 2014
Literally couldn't put it down. Wonderfully written, it draws you into the story right from the first chapter. An insight into the effects the troubles have on children in northern Ireland and mental health problems. Can't wait to read more from this author.
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