Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review | A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts is a horror novel from Paul Tremblay.

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts' plight. With John, Marjorie's father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface--and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

I really enjoyed A Head Full of Ghosts. It's part creepy possession horror / part psychological thriller, and it's all very meta. The story is being recounted many years later by Merry, one of the sisters involved in the possession, in a personal interview as well as through a series of the Merry's pseudonymous blog posts that are reviewing the reality show that documented the possession. Did I lose you? Amazingly enough, the book does a great job of making it work. I found myself forgetting about the blog entirely until it popped back up again.

It got even more meta once you realized the blog commentary was basically the book criticizing the tropes in it's own story.

But meta stuff aside, there was some horror going on worth reading. Whatever was actually happening with this family, one thing is for sure - it was creepy.

By the end of A Head Full of Ghosts, there were so many questions as to what was really going on that I got a little bored. And a little annoyed.

But! It was still a fun read and one that I would recommend to others.

7/10: Recommended Read


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  1. Well dang! I'm intrigued but if it leaves everything unanswered I'm not sure I can handle it. The cover is so awesome!

    1. The ending kind of requires us to have no idea what's going on, but it's possible it would drive you nuts. :)

  2. I think I downloaded this. Stephen King recommended a list of books and I was trying to challenge myself to read them.

  3. I'm planning on reading this one for my October horror reads! Pretty excited for this one but will adjust my expectations accordingly. :)


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