I can’t write about “The Boy Who Could See Demons” without giving spoilers. Be warned. This book is a lie. However it’s an important lie that needed to be put out there. Mental Health in children and adults is not something we talk about in a positive light. Further, we don’t talk about it nearly enough. This fiction novel focuses on a young boy and his psychiatrist, and their journey working through a possible demonic possession. The young boy, Alex, has a friend named Ruen (pronounced Ruin, I believe…), who only he can see, and who tells him killing people might be fun. The psychiatrist, Anya, is convinced, because of personal experience, that he is experiencing early onset Schizophrenia.
The book takes place in a rather dreary Northern Ireland, and the setting adds to the feeling about the book. There is perhaps one day, one chapter, where the book has a positive swing. We are constantly pulled into conversations with Ruen that make Alex question his morality. He seems too young to question his sanity. There are several unnerving cases where Ruen has the ability to know things about those around Alex. So Alex becomes a pariah everywhere he goes. It gets even worse when it seems Ruen wants to help Alex get even with some of his peers by tempting him with the power to hurt them.
Alex’s mother is also a key player as she is an addict and ends up in the hospital. Thereby, she is removed from most of the picture where Alex is involved. Luckily he has a very loving aunt who also happens to be much more amiable to residential patient treatment. So as Alex also goes into the hospital we get to see the dynamic relationship between the Psychiatrist and Alex begin.
Dr. Anya Molokova, has a very specific history with Alex’s situation. She believes Alex can hear and see demons, as her own daughter threw herself out of a window because her disease convinced her that there was a bridge that no one else could see. Anya also sports a scar her daughter gave her in a fit of rage caused by the disease. Anya has a connection to this boy few other can experience, even to the point that she starts to believe he may actually be seeing a demon. Ruen convinces Alex to transcribe a piece of music so complex most classical music students can’t play it. Anya happens to be a classically trained pianist and can play it, and eerily she’s heard it before. Her daughter had been playing it the night she killed herself.
This book illustrates the fantasy of the mind very well. How very real and tangible something can be and yet how hard it can be to describe or manipulate. It is a masterpiece of literature that had me enthralled all the way to the end. That is, until I got to the end. (IF YOU DON”T LIKE SPOILERS PLEASE STOP READING)