A Head Full of Ghosts | Book Review

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A Head Full of Ghosts (2016) by Paul Tremblay Review

My Rating: stars-2-5

When fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia within the lives of the Barretts in a suburban New England family, her parents call the doctors; however, they are unable to halt Marjorie’s descent into lunacy. As this disturbs their household, they begrudgingly turn to a local Catholic priest for help, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a reality hit television show.

I am one who believes that horror fiction specifically is a difficult genre to write. It’s hard to pull off that certain scare factor only through words and description; one may get the atmosphere, but truly making the reader scared is rare and considered as a feat to many.

A Head Full of Ghosts tries to be different, and I give it credit for that. It revolves around the quintessential narrative—possessions and exorcisms, but the manner in which it is presented through media, blog posts, and interviews definitely caught my attention while reading this.

I do appreciate the modern twist on horror, but its execution made everything feel cheap and gimmicky. Instead of using the media as a factor to create subtle suspense through notifications and the like, it uses media as a way to show off the author’s knowledge on horror movies and books. Not only that, but it was written in a hipster voice, totally making any sort of fear or fascination that was created in the earlier chapters devoid.

Tremblay does a decent job with producing paranoia within the characters, making the reader question whether what’s going on behind the curtain is actually real or not. The way media exploitation affects this is also interesting, giving the reader insight on what would actually happen if such an event occurred in real life. The way the narrative questions the truth behind all the social media and blog posts serves as a mirror to modern exorcisms—are they truly real or not?

A Head Full of Ghosts follows this theme, the credibility of an event. The novel is best at questioning the truth; however, as a horror novel, this failed to scare me because of the way the blog posts were written. It’s nice to add a little bit of hippy spice to the possession story, but even the core foundation of the story itself had very minimal tension to creep me out so the blog made everything more irritating. Interesting ideas, but the end result is cheap.

 

Read April 2017

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