A Head Full of Ghosts (2015) – Paul Tremblay

That ENDING!

I dug into what is supposed to be one of the scariest books in recent years, and I’ll testify that it is a solid, well-crafted tale with some real scares, and lots of things to worry about.

Meredith, Merry to her friends and family, is meeting with a writer who is looking to pen the definitive account of her story. When she was eight, her world was turned upside down, and through her retelling of it, we learn what happened.

Merry and her family, older sister Marjorie, and her mom and dad, are facing hard times, the economy is against them, their mortgage is menacing them, and Marjorie, at fourteen is having some real problems.

In fact, her father begins to believe that she is possessed. Through it, her father has rediscovered his faith, but the family is being torn apart, and almost broke.

Fortune (?) smiles when a reality television series is suggested, filming under the name The Possession, we delve into their personal lives as we examine the episodes of the series and Merry’s own recounting of her troubled youth.

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The two sisters are close, and because of that, doubt about whether Marjorie is truly possessed or just ill. She suggests to Merry that she’s just faking it, but what if that’s all an elaborate ruse to ultimately terrify and tear the family apart? Or is there something else going on?

Tremblay knows how to spook, and he also knows what has worked in the past, and his characters call it out as a rewatch of The Possession series continues. By defusing some of the horrors and hinting at the reality of others, the reader is off-balance, unsure what to believe, and who to trust, until the very last line of the story.

I loved this book! From it’s pop culture knowledge to the portrayal of a family falling apart, to it’s legitimate scares, all seen through an eight year old girl, and her grown up self.

Merry is a relatable character, and I love how she’s written, and how her family interacts. I also love how Tremblay relates his story. You can totally see how a family could make a choice like this to be part of a reality television show, and every one of the family members make decisions and take actions that you can understand, even if you don’t relate to there perspective.

All of the moments play out beautifully, and this is a novel that from its opening lines played in the theater of the mind. And it was oh, so enjoyable, and a scary fun read.

If you want a very smartly penned possession story that is well aware of its genre, and all that has come before it still manages to be engaging, and frightening… pick up A Head Full of Ghosts, you won’t be disappointed.

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