The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke - review

(32 ratings)
The Boy Who Could See Demons
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What's The Boy Who Could See Demons about? Alex Broccoli is 10 years old and lives with his mum in a run-down house in Belfast. He has a dog called Woof, eats nothing but onions on toast and tells terrible jokes. Oh, and his best friend is a demon called Ruen.

All Alex wants is for his mum to stop crying and for them to move into a new house that doesn't have mould on the walls. Ruen says he can help, but in return he needs Alex to do something for him. Something bad. Something really bad.

goodtoknow says: This is a brilliant book. From the first page of Alex's diary extracts we wanted to scoop him up, give him a cuddle and make his world a better place. The setting for the story is pretty bleak, but the book manages to be (darkly) funny and (ultimately) uplifting without glossing over the stark reality of life for children who find themselves dealing with mental illness.

It's a quick read as the storyline is hugely compelling and had us racing to the end of the book to find out if Ruen gets his way, but we reckon Alex's charm and strength will stay with us for some time.

Rating: 9/10
You'll like this if you liked: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Publisher: Piatkus
Publish Date: Out now
Buy it now on Amazon

More book reviews in the goodtoknow Book Club. Have you read The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke? What did you think? Join in with the goodtoknow Book Club by leaving your review in the comments box below.

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This is a book I would never normally choose, but the book club has helped me to broaden my book choices! From the outset it's a book you have to really think about when reading, however it does hold your attention well. The character of Alex is thought provoking; mental illness in children is something I have come across being a teacher, and so I was very interested to read the child's point of view in the book. The subject of child schizophrenia is a sensitive subject, but I felt that the author had obviously done her research well as it was dealt with in such a manner that you do feel that you are learning something along the way. The fact that you also have Anya the psychiatrist's point of view helped me to deal with and understand the very raw emotions Alex must have been dealing with for his demon Ruen to appear. From the first page I could see that this book would be a read to use in a book group, (Amazon have the first chapter on line if you want to check it out...), and my copy also had book group discussion questions at the back of the book too. Above all try the book out, take a chance and enjoy! I know I'll be reading more by this author now.

Rach A James

This REALLY is where a reading list comes into its own! I'd picked this book up several times at the library because I liked the cover, read the synopsis, decided I wasn't sure about the contents and put it back. But, having read the review here, I decided to go for it and I really wasn't disappointed! This book does captivate you from the very first page. I read it in a matter of days but it filled my head completely at times when I couldn't read, to the extent that I found myself Googling to read other peoples opinions of it while I was at work (shhhh!). The characters in this book are wonderful; Alex is gorgeous and Ruen is absolutely everything you'd expect from a devious little devil who would fool you into thinking he was a friend. A very good "explanation" of mental illness - bringing a smile every now and then without diminishing from the devastating effects that illness can bring. Please do read this book. I borrowed it from the library and enjoyed it so much that I've bought a copy and I'm really grateful to Good To Know for persuading me to read it - thank you!


Does Alex suffer from schizophrenia, or can he really see demons? After reading this book i still have no idea! I did enjoy the book, but the main reason I kept turning the pages so fast is because I was expecting some amazing explanation letting me know if Ruen is real or not! That aside, the book is very interesting, especially as I am currently doing a childcare course and I can see the likliness to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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