Review: The Final Girls by @riley_sager @EburyPublishing

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Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead… They were the victims of separate massacres. Grouped together by the press, and dubbed the Final Girls, they are treated like something fresh out of a slasher movie. When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

Like most of you, as soon as I saw the Final Girls‘ blurb and cover I knew I had to read it. I’ve always been a fan of horror-slasher movies so the “Final Girl” phenomenon is something I thought I’d enjoy reading about. However, this books is actually a psychological thriller, although the flashbacks scenes were classic horror-flick material.

What I liked the most about this book was precisely that horror theme. By the time I read this book I had already forgotten the blurb, so I thought the book would focus only on Quincy and her past trauma, but I was surprised when we learned about Samantha and Lisa and the fact that someone might be attacking survivors. I thought that was pretty unique. What if you survived a massacre only to become a victim of a crazy psychopath many years later?

Quincy Carpenter was the typical character in a psychological thriller: you don’t really like her but you can’t stop reading her story while judging her actions and thoughts. I think this is something that bothered me in the past but, although I definitely prefer to actually like the main character (for example, The Girl Who Was Taken), I’m already used to not tolerating characters and still enjoying the book. I also loved how the author introduced the social network and “blogger” dynamics, as I felt everything she mentioned was completely true.

I want to say this is one of those cases where my predictions were almost 100% correct but I still loved the way it ended. Especially when you find out what really happened that night years ago… I was so glad that the author chose that path! And the last chapter made me smile, too. On the other hand, I think the previous twist (concerning the present storyline) was too predictable. If you’re a fan of thrillers and horror films, I think you’ll enjoy this one. I know I did!

Ah, and the book reminded me a bit of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I know Stephen King says that if you like Gone Girl, you’ll love this one, but they aren’t similar at all 😉

ARC, Ebury, 2017

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.