Books · Reviews

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay | Book Review

I don’t scare easily, but stories about possession petrify me. I’ll admit to being TERRIFIED to even pick up this book, let alone reading it without someone else in the house. I was a brave cookie, though, and finished this incredibly twisted novel. The plot centers around the Barrett family as they deal with their teenage daughter Marjorie’s possible demonic possession.Oh, and the family agrees to have a TV crew film Marjorie and her struggles for a reality show called The Possession. The reader is placed in the shoes of Merry Barrett, the little sister of the troubled teen who is just as confused/terrified as we are about what’s happening.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with A Head Full of Ghosts, and it provoked me to contemplate the themes posited by Tremblay. Mental illness, religion, and psychology all intertwine in this spooky read. I also adored the structure of the story. The book is segmented into three parts: the past events being recalled, Merry in the present day as an adult, and a blog that tears apart the reality show and exorcism films/books. Tremblay makes the reader feel like they’re there in the Barrett house, and his descriptive writing is extremely vivid (maybe TOO vivid at points for some readers). Every bodily fluid you can think of is written about, so look out if you’re squeamish.

The first half was utterly terrifying, but the second half admittedly lost steam for me. It’s by no means bad, but it didn’t live up to the heights that the novel previously set. I’m conflicted about how I feel about the ending as well. There’s a lot to chew on, and some elements were left open to interpretation. A Head Full of Ghosts also feels incredibly similar to The Exorcist, which may turn off some readers.

Overall, this was a great, spooky book to read for Halloween. It made me think while also terrifying me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read this again, though. It doesn’t really have any re-read value for me.

VERDICT: 4/5

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