A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans
George Davies is a new father who finds he can't bear to touch his infant son. At first, his wife is willing to laugh this off as new-dad jitters, and George acts like he's just a "man's man" dad, not the type to change diapers and play "This Little Piggie." However, it quickly leads to serious marital strife, and George's wife issues him an ultimatum: go to therapy, or your family is leaving you.
In his first therapy session, George reveals that he's seen a therapist once before, when he was 11, and that he hasn't thought about that time in his life for many years. The therapist encourages him to explore those childhood memories by keeping a journal, warning him to "be ready for what comes out. When you lock something in a box for twenty years... it begins to stink."
This turns out to be something of an understatement.
The reviews I've read of this book turn cryptic after this point in the story, alluding to the mysterious death of George's father, imaginary friends, mental illness, and demonic possession, but giving up nothing concrete. After reading the book, I'm afraid I'm going to have to join those reviewers and keep mum.
But I will tell you this much. First, its comparisons to Donna Tartt's The Secret History and to The Exorcist are apt (I'd also include The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in those comparisons). Second, when I got into bed last night, I looked under it first. I also checked the shower and closets. I'm not proud.
Gwen recently posted about reading The Historian, and about the irrationality of being an educated adult who is still terrified of vampires. As an educated adult who finds any horror story involving religion to be petrifying, I can totally relate.