Posted in Reviews

Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Verdict: hella good horror, even for folks who don’t usually love horror!

Recommended: yes!
For folks who don’t usually love horror, for an insiders view of a faked (maybe?) possession, for psychological horror where you don’t really know what to believe or who to trust

Summary

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.

Thoughts

This book is absolutely fascinating. I am not a fan of horror, whether in movies, games, books, or anything else, really. But this book recommended to me was a captivating winner! So I recommend it for folks who don’t usually like horror, but DO like a story that makes you question everything over and over again, and analyze all aspects from a million angles. It’s a bit of a who-dunnit in that you just don’t know what to trust.

That was my favorite aspect of it: the fact that at the end, despite what might seem like a clear-cut answer…. personally, I still don’t really know what to believe. Your narrator is young and that alone is often a point of unreliability. With the abrupt swerves in her sister’s attitude, and even the narrator’s own admissions of times she exaggerated or lied about what had happened, I have no idea what to think. And that, of course, has left me thinking about this book long after it ended.

The viewpoint from inside the thing itself made it feel much more immediate. I wasn’t waiting for the answer to be presented to me because in theory, I was part of those pulling the strings in the first place.

As for the creepiness / horror aspect of it, there were definitely things that were unsettling or made me wonder what was really happening, but then they blended into the overdone tropes of “the demon’s presence makes the room cold” but they themselves call out that it’s only cold because a window is open and it’s the middle of winter. The cold reality (har har) intermingles with the complexity of the human brain and ultimately that’s where the creepiness really came in. Not jump scares, just how messed up regular humans can get.

Author:

Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

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