A Head Full of Ghosts

Finished A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends domestic drama, psychological suspense, and a touch of modern horror, reminiscent of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

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’m not sure how to review this without ruining anything.  So first, let me say that this book is amazing and you need to read it.

A Head Full of Ghosts is easily one of the most unexpected experiences I’ve had in a long time.  I knew going in that it would be scary (or at the least, quite creepy) but I wasn’t expecting the almost visceral reaction I had.  I had to put the book down a few times in order to compose myself.  This generally does not happen; in fact, it is one of only three books where it was mandatory.  (The only other two times: IT by Stephen King and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill.)

I really just want everyone I know to read it so that I can discuss it with people (oh, that twist; oh, that ending) but I also am happy to just sort of sit with it for a while.

This is one of the most deeply unsettling books I’ve ever read, the kind that makes me feel more than a little off-kilter and like literally anything could have happened.  (Generally, authors tend to go so far and no farther; that is not the case here.  Paul Tremblay held nothing back.)

You just need to read this for yourself.  (But be warned; this book will affect you.)

Highly recommended.


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