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A Good and Happy Child: A Novel

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A Good and Happy Child: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780307351227
ISBN10: 030735122x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Thirty-year-old George Davies can't bring himself to hold his newborn son. After months of accepting his lame excuses and strange behavior, his wife has had enough. She demands that he see a therapist, and George, desperate to save his unraveling marriage and redeem himself as a father and husband, reluctantly agrees.

As he delves into his childhood memories, he begins to recall things he hasn't thought of in twenty years. Events, people, and strange situations come rushing back. The odd, rambling letters his father sent home before he died. The jovial mother who started dating too soon after his father's death. A boy who appeared one night when George was lonely, then told him secrets he didn't want to know. How no one believed this new friend was real and that he was responsible for the bad things that were happening.

Terrified by all that he has forgotten, George struggles to remember what really happened in the months following his father's death. Were his ominous visions and erratic behavior the product of a grief-stricken child's overactive imagination (a perfectly natural reaction to the trauma of loss, as his mother insisted)? Or were his father's colleagues, who blamed a darker, more malevolent force, right to look to the supernatural as a means to end George's suffering? Twenty years later, George still does not know. But when a mysterious murder is revealed, remembering the past becomes the only way George can protect himself — and his young family.

A psychological thriller in the tradition of Donna Tartt's The Secret History — with shades of The Exorcist — the smart and suspenseful A Good and Happy Child leaves you questioning the things you remember and frightened of the things you've forgotten.

Review:

"This stunning novel marks the debut of a serious talent. Evans manages to take a familiar concept — the young child haunted by a demon invisible to others — and infuse it with psychological depth and riveting suspense. The setting alternates between George Davies's difficult childhood in Preston, Va., a small college town, after his father Paul's untimely death, and his equally challenging life as an adult and new father in New York City. Ostracized by his classmates and emotionally isolated by his mother, a struggling academic, young George begins to be visited by a doppelganger, who, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, intimates that foul play was involved in Paul's death. When those visitations lead to violence, George begins receiving psychiatric treatment. Meanwhile, some of his late father's colleagues claim that demonic possession is a reality. Evans subtly evokes terror and anxiety with effective understatement. The intelligence and humanity of this thriller should help launch it onto bestseller lists." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"With 'A Good and Happy Child,' Justin Evans has written a novel that will scare even the most hardened horror fans out of their skins. He also has delivered a book that is, for the most part, beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order.

Initially, one suspects that the story will cover familiar ground. George Davies, a 30-something... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"This is an edgy, compelling read — more unnerving than scary — that will slide its hooks deep inside and throttle you more than a few times before it's all over." Booklist

Review:

"This debut novel grips readers from the first chapter....Evans delivers a creepy and entertaining story full of perfectly written characters." Library Journal (Starred Review)

Review:

"Evans seems less concerned with things going bump in the night than in possible bumps to the head....Relating his otherworldly suspense story with the cool, calm eye of a skeptic, Evans makes the propulsive final chapter all the more horrifying. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"[A] dazzling debut." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"A scary, grown-up ghost story that combines Southern gothic with more than a twist of The Exorcist." Portland Tribune

Review:

"Think Rosemary's Baby-plus...told in the kind of prose that mesmerizes, sweeping the reader along so fast that there's no time to ask questions. Evans knows how to make us believe." Harford Courant

Review:

"A psychological thriller that keeps the reader on edge until the last page....A haunting story of guilt, denial and the possibility of demonic possession." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A first novel about which there is a justified buzz, its entertaining malevolence reminiscent of another fat first book, Donna Tartt's The Secret History." Houston Chronicle

Review:

"Evans has written a novel that will scare even the most hardened horror fans out of their skins. He also has delivered a book that is, for the most part, beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"[Evans] raises questions that normally lay slumbering behind doors, which self-styled educated people rarely if ever open, and the disturbing awakening makes this debut all the more impressive. A Good and Happy Child is a fine and memorable opener." BookReporter.com

Synopsis:

A darkly suspenseful literary thriller with the eerie heart of a ghost story, Evans's debut novel delves into 30-year-old George Davies's childhood memories to reveal ominous visions and mysteries that have been long suppressed.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

crowyhead, July 8, 2008 (view all comments by crowyhead)
George Davies can't bring himself to hold his newborn son, to the point that it is destroying his marriage. Entering counseling for what he views hopefully as "more of a hang-up" than anything serious, he uncovers strange and frightening events from his childhood that he had willfully shut out of his memory.

The young George Davies' father died when he was 11, under mysterious circumstances. Now George is experiencing strange hallucinations of a Friend who comes to him at night and tells him sinister things about his father and mother. Is he experiencing a psychotic break, or is there something supernatural at work?

There are some nicely creepy elements to this story, and the author manages to inject quite a bit of suspense, despite most of the story being told in flashbacks. The flashback mode of storytelling has an unfortunate distancing effect, however. Since it is adult George Davies recalling the events when he was eleven, the accounts of young George Davies' thoughts and feelings sometimes seem jarringly adult, even for an unusually sophisticated eleven-year-old. In addition, just the knowledge that this all happened twenty years ago mutes some of the tension. In all, this is a good read that will have you turning the pages quickly, but it doesn't quite live up to what it could be.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307351227
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Evans, Justin
Publisher:
Crown
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Psychotherapist and patient
Subject:
Psychological
Copyright:
Publication Date:
May 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.48x6.74x1.23 in. 1.38 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Good and Happy Child: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Random House - English 9780307351227 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This stunning novel marks the debut of a serious talent. Evans manages to take a familiar concept — the young child haunted by a demon invisible to others — and infuse it with psychological depth and riveting suspense. The setting alternates between George Davies's difficult childhood in Preston, Va., a small college town, after his father Paul's untimely death, and his equally challenging life as an adult and new father in New York City. Ostracized by his classmates and emotionally isolated by his mother, a struggling academic, young George begins to be visited by a doppelganger, who, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, intimates that foul play was involved in Paul's death. When those visitations lead to violence, George begins receiving psychiatric treatment. Meanwhile, some of his late father's colleagues claim that demonic possession is a reality. Evans subtly evokes terror and anxiety with effective understatement. The intelligence and humanity of this thriller should help launch it onto bestseller lists." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This is an edgy, compelling read — more unnerving than scary — that will slide its hooks deep inside and throttle you more than a few times before it's all over."
"Review" by , "This debut novel grips readers from the first chapter....Evans delivers a creepy and entertaining story full of perfectly written characters."
"Review" by , "Evans seems less concerned with things going bump in the night than in possible bumps to the head....Relating his otherworldly suspense story with the cool, calm eye of a skeptic, Evans makes the propulsive final chapter all the more horrifying. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "[A] dazzling debut."
"Review" by , "A scary, grown-up ghost story that combines Southern gothic with more than a twist of The Exorcist."
"Review" by , "Think Rosemary's Baby-plus...told in the kind of prose that mesmerizes, sweeping the reader along so fast that there's no time to ask questions. Evans knows how to make us believe."
"Review" by , "A psychological thriller that keeps the reader on edge until the last page....A haunting story of guilt, denial and the possibility of demonic possession."
"Review" by , "A first novel about which there is a justified buzz, its entertaining malevolence reminiscent of another fat first book, Donna Tartt's The Secret History."
"Review" by , "Evans has written a novel that will scare even the most hardened horror fans out of their skins. He also has delivered a book that is, for the most part, beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order."
"Review" by , "[Evans] raises questions that normally lay slumbering behind doors, which self-styled educated people rarely if ever open, and the disturbing awakening makes this debut all the more impressive. A Good and Happy Child is a fine and memorable opener."
"Synopsis" by , A darkly suspenseful literary thriller with the eerie heart of a ghost story, Evans's debut novel delves into 30-year-old George Davies's childhood memories to reveal ominous visions and mysteries that have been long suppressed.
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