Skip to main content

The Good Demon

Review

The Good Demon

No one thought to ask Clare if she wanted the exorcism. Instead, the reverend and his son broke her door down and took Her from Clare. Her, the entity that protected her when no one else did. Her, the presence that kept Clare from ever being alone. Her, the demon that was more than a friend to Clare --- She was like her sister. Now She’s gone, and Clare is hell-bent on getting Her back. But how do you find your banished demon?

She left clues: Be nice to him, June 20, Remember the stories. These clues are vague, but Clare is willing to take every stab in the dark to reunite with Her. This includes teaming up with Roy, the reverends son that helped rip Her away from Clare in the first place and uncovering dark secrets about her small, rural southern town. This isn’t your typical tale of summer adventure, Clare could very easily end up dead or worse; but what would you do for your Only?

THE GOOD DEMON is as refreshing as hot cider on a crisp autumn evening. Cajoleas has written the southern gothic mystery novel that I didn’t know YA was missing. He has created a vivid, atmospheric, tangible world and complex, fascinating characters. THE GOOD DEMON is nothing short of a gem and needs to make it onto everyone’s autumnal reading lists.

"Cajoleas has written the southern gothic mystery novel that I didn’t know YA was missing....THE GOOD DEMON is nothing short of a gem and needs to make it onto everyone’s autumnal reading lists."

From the very first page readers will be hooked; like a graze slithering along your spine, Cajoleas’s writing does the most to make you always feel just the slightest bit uneasy. I struggle to find an apt way to describe the feelings this book instills upon you. Ominous doesn’t begin to describe the experience THE GOOD DEMON offers. It’s something familiar yet eerie. It’s not a scary story, nor would I call it a suspenseful thriller --- at least not in the traditional sense we’ve come to see over the years. What THE GOOD DEMON is is a story you tilt your head at; a story that starts by simply piquing your interest, but all too soon entraps you, leaves you captivated and just ever so slightly unsettled. Through Clare’s narration is really where Cajoleas succeeds in making the reader feel simultaneously at ease and on edge.

Clare’s narration is vivid. You can practically hear her whispering in your ear and feel her grabbing your wrist for a tour of her town. Clare is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever met. She is both a culmination of so many characters from countless spooky books, television shows and films, yet so uniquely her own. She is a girl on a mission who will not be deterred. Her one-track-mind makes for a very interesting reading experience. Clare never loses focus on what is important to her, which is refreshing to read. Clare --- and several other characters --- often monologue, which was a narrative choice that I was particularly fond of. This really helped to push the old-timey, reminiscent feeling of the book and set the characters apart from others in YA today.

By herself, Clare is fascinating to read and listen to, but it’s when she interacts with other characters that she truly comes alive. Clare’s relationship with Her is such a unique take on possession, an idea we’ve seen many times throughout the years. Every chapter that reminisces on their time together is such a pleasure to read both because of Cajoleas’s skilled writing and the highly original concept.

What really surprised and impressed me about THE GOOD DEMON was just how relatable it is. I’d go as far as to say that this story about demons and the occult offers a more realistic take on what it is to be a teenager than many contemporary YA books. THE GOOD DEMON in some ways seems to really represent and nail the turmoil teens face. So often in media marketed towards teens, the big “problem” is something so trivial --- so recognizably trivial --- and we roll our eyes at how silly and overdramatic an issue or character is. While those problems may very well present themselves in reality, when they’re done in fiction it seems so ridiculous and overdone. THE GOOD DEMON succeeds in showing just how much it all feels; how everything is heightened. It takes the turmoil and feelings teens face and stretches it to an extreme without losing its integrity, without making it something we roll our eyes at. Readers can embrace it because it understands them. The writing and storytelling in THE GOOD DEMON is truly remarkable not just because it’s an entertaining read, but because Cajoleas’s heavy use of themes and allegories make a reader think and continue to think long after the final masterfully written page.

For fans of authors like Neil Gaiman, April Genevieve Tucholk and Cat Winters, Jimmy Cajoleas’s THE GOOD DEMON is a read you absolutely do not want to miss out on this fall.

Reviewed by Olivia W., Teen Board Member on September 20, 2018

The Good Demon
by Jimmy Cajoleas