A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – Book Review

The 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.

Dark Reads Review

I really enjoyed this book, I must admit, I was hoping for a ‘scarier’ read going by the some of the reviews I had read prior to reading the book. I was geared up for a supernatural horror, for me this was a psychological thriller with some horror undertones. Don’t get me wrong, I love a psychological thriller, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

There were parts that gave me a creeping feeling of dread for sure, I would say it left me with more of a feeling of despair by the end. 

I do love an ambiguous story, and it certainly was that! 

Most of the book is told from the POV of an 8 year old girl, retold by her as an adult and her recollection of the events from fifteen years earlier. There were lots of points in the story where I was unsure what was an accurate memory and what is an interpreted memory, I thought this was a clever way to ramp up the mystery.

I really liked the Possession & supernatural versus Mental health arguments, I thought they were done really well and I was questioning if it was one, the other or both throughout the whole story.

I really enjoyed the twists at the end, obviously designed to make you question everything, they did indeed made me question everything! I found myself going back over the story to decide on how I wanted to interpret the end of the story, I’m still not sure!

I can’t decide if I like the ending or if I am annoyed by it, I think it’s probably both!

Tremblay seems to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of exorcisms which was pretty impressive! There were also lots of nice little genre Easter eggs in there, with nods to classic horror too.

If you like Psychological Thriller with some horror undertones, and a story that leaves a LOT to be interpreted by the reader this is one for you!

3.5 Stars

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books
  • ISBN-10: 1785653679
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785653674
  • Published: 27th September 2016

Get your copy here

About the Author

From The Author’s Blog:

Paul Tremblay is the author of the novels The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and A Head Full of Ghosts. His other novels include The Little Sleep, No Sleep till Wonderland, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (co-written with Stephen Graham Jones).

His fiction and essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Supernatural Noir, and numerous Year’s Best anthologies. He is the author of the short speculative fiction collections In the Mean Time and Compositions for the Young and Old and the hard-boiled/dark fantasy novella City Pier: Above and Below. He served as fiction editor of CHIZINE and as co-editor of Fantasy Magazine, and was also the co-editor the Creatures anthology (with John Langan). Paul is currently on the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards as well.

Paul is very truthful and declarative in his bios. He once gained three inches of height in a single twelve hour period, and he does not have a uvula. His second toe is longer than his big toe, and yes, on both feet. He has a master’s degree in mathematics, teaches AP Calculus, and once made twenty-seven three pointers in a row. He enjoys reading The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher aloud in a faux-British accent to children. He is also reading this bio aloud, now, with the same accent. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts and he is represented by Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management.

Author’s Blog and Twitter

5 thoughts on “A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – Book Review

  1. “I can’t decide if I like the ending or if I am annoyed by it, I think it’s probably both!” A similar thing happened to me too after finishing The Cabin at the End of the World. There were a lot of good parts but also a lot of parts I wasn’t sure about and/or didn’t like and/or didn’t want the book to go in that direction. “creeping feeling of dread” sounds awesome though and I love that undertone of something scary feeling in horror books. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes totally mixed feelings by the end. I haven’t read Cabin At The End Of The World, that’s another I really like the sound of, did it have a really ambiguous ending too?

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      1. Yes, definitely ambiguous and open to interpretation. I loved the sound of Cabin too and the first couple of chapter were AWESOME. But then it just kinda went a different route and ended up pretty much like you described right here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a shame! Like I say I love a story that leaves things to the imagination, but not to the point of annoyance haha.

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