The Good Demon

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The title of the book itself is a contradiction in terms. I read The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas in an advance copy furnished by Net Galley. I moved it up in my reading queue after seeing him do an excellent job as a panelist at the Mississippi Book Festival in August. It goes on sale September 18.

How could you not be tempted to read a book with a sentence on the cover that reads, “We all have demons. Clare wants hers back.”? The “deliverance” performed by Rev. Sanders leaves Clare empty of the She/Her demon that has shielded her life from a dysfunctional family and isolation from her peers. A mix of religious zealotry and wizardry appear from the beginning.

Clare knows she must do everything in her power to get Her back. The demon has been comforter, companion, and champion to Clare. There are three clues that She left behind that can help Clare do that: “Be nice to him,” “June 20,” and “Remember the stories.” But is the price she has to pay worth the return of the spirit?

The quirky well-drawn characters of the book sometimes have everyday habits like Miss Mathis who dabbles in witchcraft but also watches Jeopardy and Rev. Sanders who casts out spirits but wears his University of Southern Mississippi t-shirt. Then there are lines like, “It draws us like a barbecue draws the Baptists.” The black-and-white artwork is both beautiful and pertinent to the storyline.

No book, including this one, is for everybody. Language and a few explicit scenes put it in the young adult category. The spirits and occult make it appealing to those who like paranormal stories more than realistic ones.