Read Extract Reading Guide

Published in English by:
Piatkus (UK & Commonwealth) and Bantam Dell/Random House (USA)

Publication Date:
10th May 2012/13 August 2013

Available to buy from:

The Boy Who Could See Demons

Bestselling author Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written a brilliant novel of suspense that delves into the recesses of the human mind and soul—perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Unger. The Boy Who Could See Demons follows a child psychologist who comes up against a career-defining case—one that threatens to unravel her own painful past and jeopardizes the life of a boy who can see the impossible.

Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.

But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.

A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Boy Who Could See Demons sets out to challenge the imagination and capture the way life takes unexpected turns. In the best storytelling tradition, it leaves the reader changed.


“This book is quite simply brilliant … one of the best books with a child protagonist I’ve ever read.” – The Guardian (UK)

“An extraordinary read. It’s one of those books that you think about while you are at work or play wondering what’s going to happen next. Then when you have finished it keeps popping back into your head. … This novel is outstanding.” – The Aucklander (NZ)

Brilliant! Rich with fully formed characters and stunning psychological drama, this heart-gripping novel will keep you riveted from first page to last (Jeffery Deaver)

Utterly captivating, this is a book I adored and savoured from the first to the very last magical page (Tess Gerritsen)

In the vein of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this is a clever and enchanting novel for anyone who understands the importance of needing a friend . . . “the new Audrey Niffenegger” (Living North)

Thought-provoking and suspenseful, even heart-warming at times, Cooke’s novel proves the devil always had the best tunes as it impresses with a gripping tale or friendship, death and identity . . . a diabolically delightful read, which will charm the hell of out you with its strong narrative voice and memorable characters (The Star)

A psychologically complex thriller, told with compassion in a marvellously suspenseful narrative that keeps you engaged from the first page to the last.This novel has it all: a dark and dangerous setting, characters full of depth, rich emotions, and a clever plot. You’ll fall in love with Alex – and his demons (Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Still Missing)

The Boy Who Could See Demons is an absolute chiller. Deep, moving and utterly gripping, I was riveted from the unsettling beginning to the mindbender of an ending. This is a stellar read that will stay with me a good long while (Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Lies)

Top-notch psychological suspense. From her descriptions of a struggling young family to a recovering Northern Ireland, Jess-Cooke effortlessly draws you into one woman’s fight to save a troubled boy. Beware what you think you know. It might be only the demons talking . . . (Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Touch and Go)

It’s a stunning story – a well-researched, authoritative delve into psychosis, guilt and damage . . . The book is beautifully written, with compassion and insight . . . thrilling, wholly plausible and utterly satisfying (Julia Crouch, author of Every Vow You Break)

Gripping from the opening paragraph to its final revelations . . .Touching and painfully funny (Julia Crouch, author of Every Vow You Break)

A rare and intriguing book, both emotionally and intellectually challenging (Helen Grant, author of The Vanishing of Katerina Linden)


The Boy Who Could See Demons is available in over 10 languages.


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