The Good Demon By Jimmy Cajoleas
Clarabella hardly remembers a time that her demon hasn't been inside her. Now it has been a month after the exorcism that chased away Her, in Jimmy Cajoleas The Good Demon.
She was nameless. Clare always with female pronouns, or called it Her Only. It was the only companion that Clare had her whole life, being the weird kid long before the death of her father.
It was one day when she was out playing that a young girl with dark hair had called her to play. Clare's new friend slowly slipped inside her, never wanting to be apart again.
She was a comfort to Clare in those early days and saw her through childhood and her teen years, until it was insistent by her stepfather after some acting out that there must be something wrong with Clare and he called in a minister.
They didn't know Her like Clare did. There was no way that She would ever hurt her.
In the end all they did was take away the only one that would listen.
She appeared a young girl in the woods and for years after, She and Clare had a special bond. Saving her vessel from danger, She told Clare that she loved her, even though they would sometimes have arguments. It was Her that had gotten Clare over the hardest parts of her life, but as Clare was growing up, She wanted to discourage Clare from having friends or boyfriends, anything that could distract her from the demon inside.
Clare loved second hand stores.
Filled with interesting things to buy, there was also plenty to steal.
Clare wasn't sure how she picked up the shoplifting habit and the old man, Uncle Mike that had run the shop knew that she was always walking out with treasures stashed into her purse, but she reminded him of a daughter that he had lost once and never told.
Sometimes Clare would find occult books and objects that she knew had once belonged to the wife and daughter of Uncle Mike. Everyone in town had said that they were witches. The wife was dead now, and the daughter presumed too although she had just gone missing.
Looking at the occult section again, Clare found a book that she had once owned of her father's from the signature inside the book and asked Uncle Mike to buy the item back although she never remembered selling it.
Sometimes She would possess Clare but it was only when something needed be done that was for her own protection.
She would never do anything to harm Clare.
As she walked outside, a woman had stopped her and offered money in exchange for Clare stealing another item from Uncle Mike's apartment above the store.
She had known Uncle Mike's daughter she had said and it had to deal with magic. Clare took two hundred dollars from the woman to "think it over" and was promised $800 more on delivery of the object.
All she had to do was take a rosewood box with an engraved eye on the lid. Then the money was hers.
In strange hindsight, Clare became friends with Roy, the son of the minster that attended her exorcism. Roy was as sheltered as Clare was lonely without her demon inside her, so Clare helped him learn to live as a normal teenager. The two eventually became more than friends, leading to an awful choice to be made.
Notes, Notebook, And The Eye Box
Clare was smitten with Roy. She hardly understood her infatuation but the boy really seemed to want to be around her.
In her father's book, she had found a note from Her- Clare had known from the hand that was not her own. She wanted Roy in Clare's life which seemed very different from the attitude She normally had about boys. She wanted Clare to remember the stories that She had passed along to her vessel as a child. She also wanted Clare to be mindful of June 20th.
Unsure what She was trying to tell her, Clare eventually distracted herself stealing the rosewood box. Stashed inside a chest in the room of Uncle Mike's daughter, the box contained what seemed to be a spell.
It also had a notebook written in the hand of a boy named Kevin with a familiar story.
Kevin had a demon inside him that he called Nicholas that appeared to him as young boy. For years, Nicholas had cared and loved the boy but one night he wanted to lead him away to meet an old man in the woods to ask for a wish.
Clare remembered something about this tale from Her. She had even taken her there once to a tree where there was a cardinal carved into trunk and was instructed that when the cardinal becomes real the gate opens.
Clare finds out from her theft that the town was part of a great cult.
How could this all tie together?
Why did Nicholas remind her so much of Her?
What had happened to Kevin?
Finding out that Kevin was dead and a sacrifice to the cult made of the most important people in town, she now began to wonder if She was as innocent as She seemed to Clare as a young child.
Clare's demon sounded just like the notebook written by Kevin. The same words, the same stories. And ultimately Kevin was taken to the house where wishes were granted and kidnapped. Kept alive with spells carved into his skin, Kevin was trapped until Uncle Mike's daughter had sought to free him causing her own ties to the house in the woods.
The Value Of Roy
She had set it all up from the beginning.
While She could never bring herself to hurt Clare, she had groomed the girl in the same way as Kevin. Now that the time had come, She knew that Clare would have to follow the instruction and go to the house in the woods and make a request.
Rather than have Clare taken herself, She had instructed that instead Clare give up Roy as the new sacrifice.
Knowing what had happened to Kevin, Clare asks herself what is more important to her: Getting back her demon that had never hurt her even though She had mislead Clare, or to give up the boy that had now broken her heart and taken her virginity only to turn on her the moment his father wanted them to break up.
Clare had believed that She was more important that any person that had come into her life and arranged for herself to be let into the house in the woods and have Roy to come fetch her, knowing that if he showed that would be the end of him.
All that Clare wanted was to have Her back.
Even though she had known now about the manipulation at hand. None of it mattered.
The Price Of Being Human
Clare suddenly comes to her senses and decides to save Roy even though she misses Her terribly, she understands that she was played from the moment she was a child meeting the strange girl in the woods. She had fed on her, influenced her decisions, and had in the beginning planned to use Clare until she was old enough to be sacrificed but something had happened to Her that hadn't with any of the other children.
She had finally connected with someone. She loved Clare and found understanding.
She couldn't kill the one human that She had respect for. So instead the demon had arranged for Roy to be killed.
Clare wanted Her back more than anything, but not like this now that she knew the whole truth of it and arranged for another ghost girl to take Her and be her replacement for Clare.
The Good Demon is a fast read, great in its ability to tell a strange story about the relationship between vessel and demon.
While this book is written for a young adult audience, I really found a lot of the subject matter more mature than teen reads and that was greatly appreciated as a horror fan.
While this book spoke of witchcraft and demons, the details were downplayed to keep it a less gory read.