Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers Inc., $24.95, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-4683-0960-7
Our Halloween Freak-fest continues this week with a YA (Young Adult) novel whose title says it all. His name is Henry Dudlow. He’s “fifteen and a half and cursed. Or damned. Take your pick.” The reason? “I see demons,” in Henry’s own words.
And so begins, The Boy Who Killed Demons, by Dave Zeltserman. It’s the story of an ordinary kid named Henry, age fifteen and a half, who’s been seeing demons since he turned thirteen. Henry lives in an ordinary town, Newton, Massachusetts, where nothing ever happens. Well, until he noticed that one of the neighbors, Mr. Hanley, looked . . . different. Really different. He sounded different too. When he spoke, Henry heard Mr. Hanley’s words as series of growls and hisses as well as English. If Henry looked at him, Hanley had yellow eyes, bright red skin and razor sharp claws instead of hands, like every other human being on the planet. After he thought about it for a while, Henry decided to make a survey, to see if there were other demons out there, masquerading as humans. He finds that there are, but they’re few and far between and he often goes for days without spotting any. One trouble is, no one else can see demons like Henry does. His searching takes up more and more of his time, forcing him to give up friends, sports and even his budding romance with the love of his life, the most beautiful and lovely girl in the world, Sally Freeman. Soon, Henry’s spending most of his time hunting demons or researching them in ancient texts he finds in an obscure little Boston bookstore. With his grades slipping, his parents on his case demanding improvement and small children disappearing all over the city, Henry has more problems than any kid should have to deal with. But that’s exactly when he finds out that the demons are hunting for him . . . and they’re determined to kill him when they meet up.
The novel is exciting, full of surprises and has enough danger to entertain young and old alike. Zeltserman is a multiple award-winning master of the horror genre who’ll captivate a whole new audience with this compelling and fresh character, so full of teenage angst.