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It’s Easy To Demonize What You Don’t Understand

In the Southern Gothic world of The Good Demon, exorcism can actually be a bad thing.

It’s Easy To Demonize What You Don’t Understand

BOOK REPORT for The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas

Cover Story: Half Assed Art Project
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Southern Gothic
Bonus Factor: Kickass Gram
Relationship Status: Possessed

Cover Story: Half Assed Art Project

It’s like a high school student realized the collage assignment was due TODAY and stole some magazines from the library to cut up during lunch. Sure, it’s not terrible, but it’s pretty basic, and there’s so much imagery from the book that would’ve made for a more compelling cover. Also, I cannot with that tagline.

The Deal:

From the outside, Clarabella—call her Clare—leads a pretty bleak existence. She’s a friendless weirdo, stuck with her mom and garbage stepfather in a toxic small town that breeds prejudice and poverty. But secretly, Clare’s life is freaking amazing. That’s because she’s got a demon, a little girl spirit who keeps her company and helps her escape from the dreary monotony of the real world. The two are inseparable, until the day that Reverend Sanders shows up to perform an exorcism, and Clare is left alone, bewildered and angry and desperate to get her demon back.

Her search to reunite with the demon leads her in unexpected directions, from a burgeoning friendship with Roy, the Reverend’s son, to the occult underbelly of the town and several mysterious deaths. And while strange has always been the norm for Clare, shizz is about to get absolutely bananas. 

BFF Charm: Yay!

Clare named her dog Eyeball, which pretty much confirms our bestiehood. Obsessed with John Dee, '80s new wave music and Parliament Lights, she's an incredibly interesting heroine with an old, sad soul--a girl who still mourns her father's death and almost drowns daily in loneliness. It's easy to see why her demon means so much to her, and my heart ached a whole bunch while reading this book, because I wanted to be the friend that she needed. But lest you think she's just a wet blanket, know that Clare also has a wicked sense of humor, and in spite of everything, she's a total blast to be around. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

When Roy, a sweetly earnest and super sheltered boy, seeks out a friendship with Clare, you can see those opposites attracting from a mile away. Yet their romance is far from formulaic--as Clare teaches Roy to live a little, and Roy teaches Clare to love a little, the two develop one of the most tender and engaging relationships I've read in quite a while. 

Talky Talk: Southern Gothic

Though Jimmy Cajoleas doesn't always nail the tone of the darker elements, overall this novel is an imaginative, creepy ride, filled with colorful personalities and a delicious sense of dread. The small town in particular is pitch-perfect: a claustrophobic, simmering hotbed of class tension with the occassional charm that throws you completely off balance. And at its center is Clare, whose voice is so vibrant and piercing, it made me tear up several times, including at this line, where she's describing her music collection: 

These records made a space for what was wrong with me. They took all my bad feelings and sang them until they were beautiful.

The rest of us may not have literal demons, but anyone can identify with Clare's struggle thanks to Cajoleas' poignant storytelling.

Bonus Factor: Kickass Gram

The second Clare meets Miss Mathis, a witch with a mouth (and liver) like a sailor, I knew she would be a bonus factor. Technically, she's not anyone's grandmother, but she is both sassy and elderly, and she is also MY FAVORITE. She wears big black sunglasses, drinks wine from a NASCAR mug and says things like this:

“Old Miss Mathis is a good listener. Bring me a liter of Smirnoff, and I’ll listen to your worries all day.”

“Now, run along. Miss Mathis needs to get tanked and watch her Jeopardy.”

“I myself picked [witchcraft] up from a slew of lovers I had in the seventies, back when I was into the cocaine.” 

I MEAN.

Relationship Status: Possessed

Book, I fell prey to your powers, and I ain't mad about it! Like any good demon, you're an entertaining companion with a dark side, and I'm so glad I exorcised--I mean, exercised--my right to enjoy you. 

Literary Matchmaking:

  

• In the mood for another slice of Southern Gothic? Sink your teeth into The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden.

• Meet the good kind of exorcist in When Life Gives You Lemons, a lighter take on this whole demon situation. 

• Take a trip to another Southern small town with Jen Doll's Unclaimed Baggage.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Abrams. I received neither money nor cocktails in exchange for this review. The Good Demon is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).