A Good and Happy Child is Evans’ first novel. I myself do not have, perhaps, the perception to say whether or not this shows; suffice it to say that, while it is entertaining, this book definitely has its weaknesses.

A Good and Happy Child is the story of George Davies, a new father who finds himself unable to hold or even touch his newborn son out of some paralysing and unknown fear. He turns to a psychiatrist to help him, and the supernatural trauma of his childhood slowly comes to light. The story of George’s childhood is a gripping one, involving Christian beliefs about the existence of evil and the devil, and I’ll admit that it had me hooked – I began the book thinking it would fill the gap after Pterry’s Nation, and ended up finishing the whole thing in one day. Evans, for the most part, weaves a world and a cast of characters that are continually engaging and makes sure that the suspicious reader is never quite sure who to trust.

For the most part, mind. Evans’ almost mechanical insistence on phonetically describing how a particular person pronounced a word directly after the relevant piece of dialogue without an exception pulled me out of the story every irritating time, and one particular scene near the end of the book was obviously composed for effect, at the expense of my suspension of disbelief and, it must be admitted, my disenchantment with the story’s end entirely. Of course, endings are many authors’ weakness, but nothing came after this particular break to lure me back into the story: I kept reading, the book ended, and that was that. In fact, not expecting an ending so soon, I almost missed it the first time around, although the book’s producers are to blame for that – seeing more text on the following page, I assumed the story would go on, but it was only the Author’s Note, tacked tightly on to the end of the manuscript.

Overall, and I say this still in the post-read glow, I enjoyed this book. It’s been a while since I read a decent book which accepted the Christian, particularly the Catholic, faith as based on truth (and I say this as an atheist), and although I must disagree with some assumptions that world view takes, Evans never tried to ram his faith down my throat, nor completely denigrate other religions – well, apart from saying that tend to be infiltrated by or based on the ignorant worship of demons, heh. In the end, this was one of those books in which the journey is better than the destination, but whether the disappointment of the book’s conclusion is made up for by what comes before it, I shall leave for you to decide for yourself.

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