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Extended Audio Sample A Good and Happy Child: A Novel, by Justin Evans Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,819 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Justin Evans Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2007 ISBN: 9781415937174
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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 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. 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. And 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 Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Evans exorcises the demons of adolescence in his smart psychological thriller. Vogue
  • [A] satisfying, suspenseful first novel. . . . Young George’s intriguing story unbalances the reader right up to the book’s deliciously chilling end. People
  • A psychological thriller that keeps the reader on edge until the last page. . . . A haunting story. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • This stunning novel marks the debut of a serious talent. Evans manages to take a familiar concept and infuse it with psychological depth and riveting suspense. . . . 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)
  • 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)
  • This is an edgy, compelling read–more unnerving than scary–that will slide it hooks deep inside and throttle you more than a few times before it’s all over. Booklist
  • A Good and Happy Child is a rare achievement--a literary horror story that's deeply intelligent, beautifully written, and seriously chilling. If Justin Evans's provocative and creepy first novel doesn't keep you awake at night, you must be taking some pretty strong medication. Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children
  • "Relating his otherworldly suspense story with the cool, calm eye of a skeptic, Evans makes the propulsive final chapter all the more horrifying. Entertainment Weekly
  • A Good and Happy Child unsettles the imagination with its twisting path into a private hell. Evans's story tingles with psychological suspense as it explores the subterranean world where faith meets fear, reminding us how hard it is to rid ourselves of our demons. Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child
  • Everyone has a little demon inside them. And some darkness. But it's the revelation that makes A Good and Happy Child so incredibly scary and unnerving. Man, did this get under my skin in the very best way. Get ready to face your demon. Brad Meltzer, author of The Book of Fate
  • “Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sleeping with the lights on. Parade
  • A scary, grown-up ghost story that combines Southern gothic with more than a twist of The Exorcist.
    Portland Tribune
  • 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
  • Think ‘Rosemary’s Baby plus . . . told in the kind of prose that mesmerizes.
  • Beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order. Washington Post
  • [A] dazzling debut. Chicago Tribune

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Corey Pieper | 2/20/2014

    " A fantastic, riveting, frighting book. This has replaced "Pet Sematary" (yeah) as the most memorably haunting book I've ever read. I could barely put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alex | 12/28/2013

    " I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. It was both disturbing as hell and entertaining. I really liked the writer's style and rarely found myself skimming (a bad habit I do when I start getting bored with a writer). He's very visual and I have some incredible scenes in my head but the subject matter is so dark and difficult to resolve I'm not sure that the lush style makes up for it. I'll revisit this "review" after I've had time to sit with it for a bit. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laren | 12/9/2013

    " This book is very creepy. Is it a horror novel involving a cult? Or is it a portrait of a man gone insane? Is there even a difference between the two? There is no definitive answer by the end, which makes it all the more disturbing. This book will stay on your mind well beyond the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tish | 12/3/2013

    " Weird book, but I could not put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gretchen | 11/28/2013

    " This will make a fantastically creepy movie. And I definitely devoured it. I also liked the structure of the therapy sessions. But after a while I kind of got into "give me a break!" mode. I guess it all depends on how much you believe in the possibility of possession. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Halsted | 11/28/2013

    " I enjoyed the writing more than I enjoyed the plot, but both were very good. [note to self: write more when life calms down] "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin Malone | 10/30/2013

    " Book Club Book. Truly freaky. A great scare. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 8/26/2013

    " Liked it, but it was on the weird-scary side. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Barbara | 8/10/2013

    " I only finished this book because I was on vacation and running out of reading materials. I thought it rather silly. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alisha | 8/6/2013

    " Creepy and not usually my type of book, but such good writing. It's been compared to Donna's Tartt's The Secret History, which is another great book. All the exorcisms and hysteria got a bit old by the end, but overall pretty entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bookstorequeer | 8/5/2013

    " This book was fantastic. It's horrific and dark and leaves you wondering just what it is that happened (but in a good way!). It's a great read for horror-fans and it's also fascinating from a psychological perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jojo | 4/17/2013

    " roman polanski should make a movie out of this book... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary Beth | 2/28/2013

    " not at all what I had hoped for...disappointing... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debi | 1/14/2013

    " I don't like scary movies, so I don't see why I would like a scary book. there were parts where i was intrigued, but basically i was bored through most of the book. Not so into this writing style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Spencer Seher | 8/5/2012

    " spooky and disturbing; a psychological thriller or a horrible tale of possession? The unraveling of a human mind under the machinations of a malevolent demon deftly told in straight and haunting prose. Truly creepy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 6/29/2012

    " turn out to be worth reading. wasn't sure at first. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brad Harkins | 5/26/2012

    " Not a bad read for the Halloween season. Sustained creepiness. Was gonna give it 3 stars but am feeling generous today. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Darcey | 3/10/2012

    " I didn't get it. Well written and clearly "intellectual", but the storyline was just too bizarre for me (devils and demons and exorcisms... oh my!). Was not nearly as compelling as The Secret History, as the jacket suggested. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jan (the Gryphon) | 2/5/2012

    " The rather disjointed narrative adds to the creepiness in this tale of exorcism, psychiatry and a deceased father. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Griffith | 10/23/2011

    " One of the most frightening books I ever read! And a gripping story too. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Badmuthagoose | 10/2/2011

    " You MUST read this book, it's very good and a great discussion starter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsey | 8/20/2011

    " Very interesting topic! Through most of the book the author had me believing in the demonic world. Toward the end I found myself questioning whether everything that happened was psychological or not. Very open ended and will definitely make you think. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tanaya | 7/22/2011

    " Metaphysical, physiological thriller - gripping. Just read about another book that may be in the same vein "Mariette in Ecstasy". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 7/21/2011

    " Unbelievably creepy. I haven't been this creeped out by a book in a long time. Probably ever, actually. Really really great book, if you're in for being frightened at random intervals. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 6/25/2011

    " This book was, to quote my sister, "weird as a beard"... I liked it, but it was creeeeepy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ian | 5/15/2011

    " The author appears to be trying to write both a supernatural horror story as well as trying to make some sort of statement about dealing with theological concepts of evil in a secular age, with imperfect results on both accounts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 5/3/2011

    " Creepy! This story about demonic posession of a young boy who grows up only to discover alot of repressed issues kept my interest right through to the end. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cecilia | 1/25/2011

    " Didn't like it. The character was just not interesting and the plot never really evolved. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Montana | 1/25/2011

    " Disappointed. I really do not like writers that set up rules at the beginning of the book and then break them in order to accommodate their ending. Maybe the author meant the ending to be clever but it just came about lazy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lu | 12/26/2010

    " A great horror novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 12/18/2010

    " One of the most frightening books I ever read! And a gripping story too. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Whitney | 12/18/2010

    " Pretty terrible writing, but interesting from a genre perspective. All the trends in characterizations of evil children are really starting to line up for me. "

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