A Head Full Of Ghosts (Paul Tremblay)

31713935The lives of the Barretts, a 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 halt 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, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories begin to surface and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed.

I came across A Head Full Of Ghosts in Goodreads and it immediately caught my attention. The ratings and reviews were great and I thought the topic (exorcisms!) was awesome. I had never read a book about it before. A Head Full Of Ghosts was my first and it certainly has set the bar high.

The book centers around the relationship between two sisters: Marjorie and Merry. Twenty-five years after “the exorcism” took place, Merry is being interviewed by a best-selling writer who wants to know what really happened. And so Merry starts telling the story of her sister’s descent into madness. Or was she possessed by a demon? And what happened after that?

The book wasn’t terrifying (then again, I don’t usually get scared with fiction), but it definitely creeped me out. I need to warn future readers: some scenes were disturbing and extremely hard to read. However, if I’m being completely honest, those were also my favorites. The novel has a general unsettling feeling, so it won’t be for everyone and you must know it includes some graphic scenes.

With A Head Full Of Ghosts, there isn’t a definite theory by the time you reach the final page. Don’t expect the book to give you all the answers, because you won’t find that here. Instead, there are plenty of possibilities, you just need to choose your favorite. The author has made it clear that you can believe whatever you want. That’s the magic of fiction and, of course, I already have my own theory of what happened. But I can’t help wanting to know what the truth really was. Maybe there isn’t one, but I’m curious like that and I always need to know, so this frustrated me a little bit.

The “twist” was so chilling I had to close the book for a moment in order to process what I had read. Let’s say there’s a jaw-dropping “revelation” in the final chapters that will leave you feeling uneasy. I had the same reaction with Sharp Objects (not that the ending is remotely similar) and that’s one of my favorite books, so this is definitely a compliment. Long live creepy endings!

Another section I enjoyed reading were the “blogging” chapters, filled with meta-references and endless talk about horror films. I’m a massive film geek, so those paragraphs were incredibly fun to read and now I want to be friends with Paul Tremblay and have him recommend me lots of movies to watch. His writing was simply brilliant.

Can’t wait for the movie!

Titan Books, 2016

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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


35 thoughts on “A Head Full Of Ghosts (Paul Tremblay)

  1. Ara | The Bookish Agenda says:

    This sounds like a really great read! I haven’t read something like this yet, and after reading your review, I’m suddenly excited to explore the genre and start with this one 🙂


  2. Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek says:

    Great review. 🙂 I really liked the book to and thought the ‘blogging’ chapters were great.

    That revelation was a shocker!

    The only thing I didn’t like was the Stephen King quote on the front, definitely high praise for the author getting a quote from King but it really made me think that the book would be scary and it wasn’t, though it’s probably just me as I’m more likely to laugh at horror than be scared! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous says:

    As I don’t do horror or creepy and I have a vivid imagination when laid in the dark, I think I’d have to give this one a miss. Glad you enjoyed it though 🙂


  4. Diana says:

    WOW, This sounds very interesting. The ending and the twist are quite intriguing.Just wondering if the uncertainty at the end is what made it 4 stars instead of 5 stars? It sounds really good though in all aspects. I am yet to read Sharp Objects but reading this review makes me want to read it soon. Great Review as always.


    • Annie says:

      Thank you D! Yeah, that was exactly it. I know most people like this ending because you can decide what you want, but ughhhhhh I just wanted it to be more clear. But the book is still awesome and I recommend it highly!!!


  5. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    Well it sounds like the “creep” factor and disturbing moments where present, so I am sold! I also really appreciate when a book can end in a manner that forces the reader to derive their own conclusion and it works. So many times that idea falls flat. I am not familiar with the author. Will be pulling this one up to add to the list 🙂


  6. Anne says:

    I wanted to say the same thing Drew said, about the Stephen King quote on the cover being misleading. But alas, it has already been said! (and again now :’) ). Great review Annie! I wish the Halloween month was a lot longer than it is so I could fit all kinds of creepy books like this one into my TBR for it ;D


  7. Donna says:

    I’m easily scared so I’m glad despite the King quote and the title, this story is more creepy than scary! I might add it to my October reads to be in the right mood for Halloween!


  8. Grab the Lapels says:

    If you love horror films and fiction, and you’re willing to take on a challenging book, you need to read Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones. I’ve heard lots about Paul Tremblay, so I’m glad to see someone finally read and reviewed him!

    Liked by 1 person

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