Book Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Well, I’m a little late on the Halloween content, but I was side-tracked by other projects. So as such, just getting to reviewing A Head Full of Ghosts. Book Riot compiled a list of book recs by Stephen King, who said that A Head Full of Ghosts “scared the living hell out of [him].” Ok, when Stephen King says something scared him? Yeah, I want to read that.

A Head Full of Ghosts is about a family whose teenage daughter, Marjorie, is suffering from mental illness but her religious-minded father takes a different approach: the Catholic Church and a reality TV show. The story is told in three ways: Merry, younger sister of Marjorie, age 23 talking to a non-fiction writer who wants to tell Merry’s family story; Merry, age 8, as it the events unfold; and Karen Brisette, blogger who deconstructs episodes of The Possession (the reality TV show).

I think what was scarier than the mental breakdown of Marjorie was the struggle between her mental wellness and the idea of demonic possession. Here was a teenager who clearly needed help, but her father takes the advice of a priest and gets them a reality show deal. On one hand, it’s commentary on our society–to what extreme are we willing to take this whole faux reality nonsense?

The title of the book is so well done: A Head Full of Ghosts. It pretty much applies to everyone–Marjorie, who’s troubled by voices chattering to her; Merry, who’s haunted by her past; Sarah, their mother, who’s haunted by her anger in allowing the reality TV show to unfold in her home; and John, their father, who’s become a religious fanatic. One of my favorite lines from the book was when Merry, age 8, in a discussion with her father about the Holy Trinity and inviting Jesus into your heart, comments that she’s not sure she has room for all 3 of them in her head. It’s such a little kid thing to say, but ties really well into the title of the book.

So if you’ve guessed this book is not so supernatural, you’ve guessed right. But it’s still a terrifying, creepy book that makes for an entertaining read.

Purchase A Head Full of Ghosts on Amazon

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