A Head Full of Ghosts

A Head Full of Ghosts

Book - 2015
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FPL_Lori Oct 23, 2020

Merry Barrett is 8 years old when her older sister, Marjorie, begins to exhibit signs of mental illness. Believing she may be possessed by a demon, the Barrett family employs the help of a priest to perform an exorcism. Since the family is also in need of money, they agree to allow this part of their lives to be made into a reality show. Part horror and part psychological suspense, Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts borrows elements from classic horror novels like The Exorcist and The Shining. Told by an unreliable narrator (Merry was 8 years old when events occurred) and including some twists and turns- it also borrows elements from modern psychological thrillers. Highly recommended for fans of horror and psychological thrillers.

May 20, 2020

Apparently I'm a Paul Tremblay fan; this is my second book by him and I thoroughly enjoyed it, just like I enjoyed The Cabin at the End of the World. I don't read much scary stuff so I think my threshold for being frightened is pretty low. This story of 14-year old Marjorie and her family is told from the POV of little sister Merry, now a young adult but 8 years old at the time of the events she's describing. Marjorie is either experiencing a terrible psychotic break or is possessed by a demon - and her financially strapped parents sell her story to a reality TV show. That's some great parenting there.
I had a number of delightfully creeped out moments, and I was engrossed and in the dark throughout.

sit_walk Nov 18, 2018

Another of Tremblay’s “is it real or is it supernatural” psychological thrillers. Strong plot and excellent characterization.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Sep 30, 2018

Dark and creepy story of a maybe-maybe-not possession. Perfect Halloween reading!

CRRL_MegRaymond Jan 25, 2018

Is fourteen year Marjorie schizophrenic? Or possessed by a demon? Either way, a reality TV show wants film rights.

Jan 03, 2018

Enjoyed this book. The handling of the point-of-view of an eight-year-old girl was the most skilled part and leads me to say that it was quite readable without being extraordinary. Three stars.

Oct 27, 2017

The most intriguing aspect of this story is the question of what the truth is and what actually happened. The "possession"/possession is filmed for TV with all the exaggerations, suggestions and nuances that come with it, which affects Merry's recollection years later as she tells the story to the reporter and works through it in her pseudonymous blog. Incorporating the unreliability of memory was clever and mirrors our own conflicting opinions on what's happening. I really enjoyed the blog posts discussing each episode spliced between the retelling of actual events. And yeah, there's a twist, but overall it fell flat for me. I didn't feel any atmospheric buildup, characters were pretty banal (kid-Merry was insanely annoying for me, but that's beside the point), and I would've liked some introspective passages for each character at various points - for example, give us an insight into the confessional bits. Also, the cover is creepier than the book. Ultimately: meh.

Mar 26, 2017

Was a bit put off with the blog writing and the slow build-up to the story. I was even thinking about returning it without having finished reading the story. However, the writer is good as far as invoking imagery that can really put you in the settings. And the wrap-up was so good that I went back and read all of the parts I'd skipped.

Mar 11, 2017

Sometimes book covers just don't live up to the book. Came across this book by chance, read the cover and was totally intrigued. I started this book but literally had to force myself to sit down and read it, skipping ahead and reading little blurbs I kept thinking that it was going to get better (and maybe it does judging from the other reviews) but for me I just couldn't get there. Only made it about a third of the way through.

Jan 02, 2017

Just a truly excellent book, start to finish.

Dec 27, 2016

Wow! Excellent horror fiction. Plot is young girl (Marjorie) exhibits eerie and frightening behaviorisms; family hires exorcist and allows the exorcism to be filmed by a reality show because they are in deep financial trouble. Fast forward to 15 years later where her now adult little sister is being interviewed.

The characters (including Marjorie herself) repeatedly question whether or not she's truly possessed or is faking it. However, there are several things Marjorie does that are not physically and humanly possible. So I know what my guess is!

Very creepy, very chilling and oh so satisfying to read!!

Amy_MarkhamPL Dec 15, 2016

Terrifying, devastating, and just so, so smart. This is a book that haunted me for months after finishing it.

VaughanPLKasey Dec 02, 2016

This book is about as close to perfect as it is possible to be. Quietly chilling, and devastatingly real-feeling.

Oct 25, 2016

For a full review (and other reviews too!) visit my blog, Clues and Reviews

Wow. I am absolutely floored after reading this book.

The story follows the Barrett family as they struggle with issues surrounding their teenage daughter, Marjorie. Initially, Marjorie begins to do quirky things like sneaking into her sister’s room at night and arranging her posters strangely in her soon. As the story moves on, more strange and disturbing things begin to happen as Marjorie becomes increasingly paranoid. Seeking answers (and feeling desperate), the family patriarch turns to the church believing his daughter is the victim of demonic possession. Now comes the twist, the family decides to become featured on a reality television show (called The Possession) as they attempt to exorcise Marjorie and cleanse their family.

The novel left me constantly questioning. Are these people crazy? Is Marjorie truly possessed? Is she mentally ill? Could this really be happening? The novel really played on the concepts of good vs. evil and appearance vs. reality.

I loved the ending of this novel. It was a twist I was not expecting and Tremblay did an amazing job at keeping it a complete secret until the last chapter. Normally, I pride myself on being able to connect the dots and guess the ending. Not with this novel! I was absolutely shocked.

Paul Tremblay does an excellent job weaving a story that will please all different types of readers. I found this novel to be a perfect blend of a horror, a supernatural, and a psychological thriller. This book will leave me reeling for a while.


Jul 17, 2016

I just finished reading this book. I did enjoy it, but from what Stephen King has said about this book, it left me wondering...where is the part that scared Stephen King?! (whom said he does not scare easily)

I do recommend this book to those who are into horror/paranormal, as it is more a homage to other classic horror films in a way than it is scary, and is worth a read.

It just left me wishing there was more of an oomph to it.

Feb 28, 2016

Chilling read. Is the teenage girl suffering from mental health issue or is she really possessed by the devil? Is anyone in this book sane or telling the truth? Worth a read.

Feb 15, 2016

I wasn't impressed. The writer tends to over-write non-essential details, and the characters aren't all that likeable. The possessed child is not a sympathetic enough character for one to connect with in a meaningful way. Her actions are creepy and stomach-turning. I found her younger sister (one of the narrator's) to be slightly annoying as well. I haven't finished the book and I suspect that I will not do so. The premise is an interesting idea for a book. But the story just didn't hook me.

Jan 09, 2016

Fantastic! Recommended as one of the top 10 books of 2015 and he is definitely right, it's worth the read.

rugbrat35 Jan 07, 2016

I will be returning this book as it talks about the girl masterbating on the parents bed making herself bleed. So I WILL NOT be recommending this book to anyone

vmccreedy Nov 26, 2015

Best horror I have read this year. A story that totally messes with your mind and you have no idea who to believe.

KateHillier Aug 23, 2015

Sounds like a horror film trope fest and that's sort of what it is - for good or ill. When 14 year old Marjorie starts acting weird her father becomes convinced that this is a case for a priest. You know what else would be a great idea? Let's get a reality TV show out of this as well. We get this through the eyes of 8 year old Merry, who is telling the story as an adult to someone who is working on a book about the case/TV show.

It was an alright book to read. A lot of tribute is being paid to possession films and books and book does make the point to drop the names (as a wink to the reader, I assume) but it comes off a bit as tired as it would if it were one of those possession films. It's a nice enough diversion, the blog posts keep things fresh, but the book still occupies the 'that was alright' area.

Jul 29, 2015

I know that I am horribly conservative, but I am very uncomfortable with stories that don't have a solid end. I got to the end and I have too many questions - who is the evil one? is there an evil one? is the evil supernatural or just the result of a bored and nasty mind. This is well written and although it moves slowly, I was drawn in, page after page, to the end.

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