Abrams Books was kind enough to send me an arc of The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas in exchange for a review. The book is already out, so you don’t have to wait to add it to your Fall reading list! That is definitely my recommendation as I loved this dark demonic read full of heart, grief, and woe. The perfect book to read by candlelight on a spooky Autumn evening, keep reading to find out why!
Click here for the Synopsis!
True Detective meets The Exorcist in this gripping YA mystery debut about one girl’s exorcism—and her desperate quest to reunite with her demon
Clare has been miserable since her exorcism. The preacher that rid her of evil didn’t understand that her demon—simply known as Her—was like a sister to Clare. Now, Clare will do almost anything to get Her back. After a chance encounter with the son of the preacher who exorcised her, Clare goes on an adventure through the dark underbelly of her small Southern town, discovering its deep-seated occult roots. As she searches for Her, she must question the fine lines between good and evil, love and hate, and religion and free will. Vivid and sharp, The Good Demon tells the unusual story of friendship amid dark Gothic horror.
Going into this book, I didn’t really know what to expect but I was hoping for some creepy vibes and creepy demons and this book delivered. There are so many things I enjoyed including the demon itself, the portrayal of mental illness, religious/moral conflicts, a small town with lots of secrets, and light romance. The romantic relationship was very important, but it was never the primary focus of the story.
Digging a bit deeper into the themes, mental illness came into play in several different forms. The main character, Clare, dealt with severe depression and grief throughout the story. Her young life was full of trauma and tragedy from paranormal forces, but also from her immediate family. She becomes directly involved in situations involving drug use, suicide, assault, sexual assault, and emotional abuse. Any one of this things could easily be portrayed poorly, but I did not feel that was the case. Each element was presented with care and layers of meaning creating the darkness and depth I hoped to find in these pages.
Clare becomes close with a pastor’s son, Roy, in the book. They disagree fundamentally on some important issues, but they still maintain a friendship. It was a complex and turbulent relationship to watch, and I was really interested in seeing how it would play out in the end. Again, the character Roy was an aspect that could have turned me off to the book, but instead, I found his counterpoint to Clare really integral to the narrative. Though his beliefs were clearly stated, the book never felt like it was preaching to the reader.
Watching Clare deal with the loss of her beloved demon is an allegory for toxic relationships, and drug withdrawl as well. Her feelings of loneliness and loss were so heartfelt, and I really felt for her struggle. I had to keep reading to make sure Clare was able to find some hope and peace. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out if she was successful.
As I mentioned previously there are some very heavy themes, and potentially triggering scenes throughout the book so keep that in mind when you approach this read. I love books that take a deep look at grief and loss, and the perspective in The Good Demon was unique and thought-provoking for me. If you read it, let me know what you thought in the comments!