Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Good and Happy Child, by Justin Evans. Three Rivers Press 2007

George’s marriage is ending because he cannot bring himself to touch his newborn son- even though he loves the child. His therapist suggests that he writes in a journal to try and uncover the reason; the ensuing outpouring is a tale of horror from when he was eleven years old. Dealing with the recent and unexpected death of his father and other changes in his household, he becomes haunted by his Friend, an entity that looks just like him- an entity that causes violence to happen to people. The question is: Is the Friend real, and a demon, or is George mentally ill and performing the violence himself from some subconscious need? The authorities believe the latter, but friends of George’s father believe the former, because of beliefs the father held. A tug of war ensues for the right to help George; it becomes psychiatrist versus religion. Who is right?

The story is creepy and you just never know if George is mentally ill or if he is truly possessed. Just as you’re convinced he’s mentally ill, an event happens that is definitely supernatural- an event seen by two other people. This introduces a third option- that there is a poltergeist, activated by George’s subconscious turmoil.

This book is a horror story that reminds me a lot of some of what was written in the 70s- The Exorcist, The Omen. It has the same ability to make the skin crawl because of the uncertainty as to what is real- and how far the violence and evil may go. I’m surprised that no one has made a movie of this yet. 


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