The Demons’ Play by Holly Ann
Publication Date : November 19th 2020
Publisher : Vulpine Press
Genre : Fiction
Pages : 300
This illness is my demon and this book is my therapy. I have symptoms like these and I want to help you see what it’s like to feel like me.
The Demons’ Play is a book about mental health like no other; a play within a book experience based on the author’s own personal experiences.
We are introduced to fifteen characters, all with different mental disorders including depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, grief, and schizophrenia. Their personal stories and group therapy sessions are interspersed with images, poems, and thoughts all related to their illnesses.
*** Note: I received e-ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Vulpine Press. ***
The Demons’ Play was interesting novel about the mental health that revolved around main character, Jane, struggling from depression and joining the therapy with fifteen other characters each suffering from their own mental disorders. It was about different types of mental health disorders, what triggered them, different kind of therapy and how a better consultation and a group therapy helped patients even though they had different disorders but few similarities.
(TW) Like Synopsis said characters had depression, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, grief, schizophrenia, autism, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, substance and alcohol addiction, Borderline Personality Disorder, social phobia, OCD, and Munchausen by Proxy; dealing with heavy subjects like loss, suicide attempt, paedophile, self-induced vomiting and malnourishment, child abuse, domestic abuse, and, murder.
First of all this was hard to review. It was not a usual novel where I can dissect plot or character or tell I enjoyed it. How can one enjoy a book that is filled with so many heavy subjects and dealing with a real life problems, disorders somebody out there was suffering from or recovering? It took me longer to read even though it’s not as long as page count says because of different style of writing.
Writing was intriguing, detailed, and easy to follow. It was accentuated by different style of fonts, images, character’s profile card and their diagnosis. It was mainly narrated by Jane who suffers from depression but each character tells their story in first person narrative. The book was written in non-linear way that included act scenes, one-on-one consultation, group therapy sessions with pop-up of characters’ inner thought beside the conversations, poems, and their personal life.
It was surprising to find, this book was just ‘part I’- that I didn’t know before starting the book- with total three chapters/sections that included introduction, diagnosis, and therapy. It started with introduction of Theresa Carson, Forensic Psychiatrist who was gathering volunteers with various mental disorders to participate in a group studies and in exchange helping them, for free, in understanding their disorder and how to prevent trigger symptoms and avoid or face situation causing trigger symptoms. And That’s how started introduction of each characters and their life stories. I was curious to find out if they were going to take part in this group study, how Theresa was going to help them and if this therapy was going to work for them or not.
Now I cannot talk about all characters as it will be too long and might ruin the book but here is sneak peek-
I kept this image as it was hard to follow all fifteen characters and their disorders or remember every secondary character related to them. There is Cast List at the end of the book to help so I suggest to get paperback or keep the pic like I did to make it easy to follow each character.
Most of the characters were easy to empathise with. Once I knew what they were going through and see what caused stress so intense leading to their current conditions, I wanted to join Theresa help them and hug them. But I didn’t like few characters, to be specific Cindy and Patricia. I know it was because of illness, they didn’t get to diagnose or treatment in time and yet what they, specifically Patricia, did or were doing never felt right, it doesn’t exempt them for what they did. I think those two are lot similar than I thought even though they had different disorder.
All their life stories and back stories were emotive and thought-provoking. I can’t believe how much adults had hand in triggering illness in their kids. Their poor actions and choices, controlling or hard to please nature, resulted worst consequences, even in those whose disorder was genetic. Like Tyler I really questioned, how can parents be this bad and how they couldn’t see what was happening to their kids or how their behaviour was affecting. And I can’t believe how religion/ways of living and community can be more important than health and one’s own kid. There were so many things to discuss and to think over.
Poems were brilliant. I enjoyed act scenes that created scenario making both readers and characters to understand their diagnosis and situation better and how a change in the scenario in last chapter could help them in taking next step towards their recovery journey.
One thing I liked was book ends with continuation. Author kept the end realistic making it clear that not all gets happy ending and definitely not with only one or two group therapy session. At the end all character took a step towards change in their behaviour and realise something good came from the session while some characters found someone they could relate to and some didn’t have good ending. This wasn’t the end as it’s just one part. There will other parts (Part II – part VII) in next books and I’m curious what is to come next for these characters.
Why 4 stars-
It was a bit difficult to remember so many characters and follow their stories. As there was only few sessions and there is more to come I’m holding back another half star and hope to read more about all diagnosis and characters’ recovery.
Overall, The Demons’ Play interesting, informative, thought-provoking and inspiring mental health book. It was nothing like I have read before and included much more than I expected. I highly recommend this book.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my review, have you read this book already or going to add it to TBR? Have you read a book featuring all types of mental health?
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