A Head Full of Ghosts

A Head Full of Ghosts

by Paul Tremblay


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A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends psychological suspense and supernatural horror, reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, and William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist.

The lives of the Barretts, a normal 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 stop 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. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062363237
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/02/2015
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, and the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family.

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A Head Full of Ghosts 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read many horror and suspense novels, most of them forgetable and easily put down for my next book. While I was reading this novel, I would think about off and on during my work day and couldn't wait until I could find a cozy spot at the end of my craxy day as nurse and start reading. Most novels I rush through, almost compulsively trying to finish, but this one I read slowly and savored it. I hope this writer continues with this genre, he is gifted with a wonderful sense of what is psychologically scary without gore. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author keeps the reader on his/her toes throughout the entire book. Its fascinating and unpredictable. I loved it!
Cherylkochbooks More than 1 year ago
This book is told from the first person perspective of Merry. She is grown up and being interviewed about the events that led up to the present. I liked that this story was told from the first person voice of Merry but the younger version. Seeing everything through Merry's eyes helped me really get the full experience of what she and her family went through including Marjorie. Although I would classify this book more of a psychological thriller than horror. Yes, the events that transpired to the Barretts was creepy, it did not make the hairs on my arms stand up or keep me from being afraid of the dark. I would say it was more like the Amityville Horror type of scary. The ending however was mild and a little disappointing. For all of the things that transpired to lead up to the ending was sad. However this was a quick read. I did like what I read and would check out more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book because Stephen King supposedly said he was scared... So I had to read it. I didn't find it scary but I agree with another reviewer in that it should be classified as a psychological thriller, not horror. What I really liked was the relationship between Merry and her sister. Very intimate and genuine. Little things like Marjorie calling her sister Monkey...very heartfelt. Those two sisters loved each other through it all and you could literally feel their connection. Great character development. I would definitely recommend to fans of psychological thrillers. Very very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Told from the prospective of the 8 year old sister Merry, this novel holds your attention as Margorie the older sister goes through possession or mental illness. I loved Merry & didn't want the book to end, but oh what an ending it was!! A must read but do not expect another version of the Exorcist! This book involves the entire family dynamic and keeps you guessing if the older sister is faking, possessed, schizophrenic or a manipulating surly teenager! I'm going to reread to look for more clues!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A compelling, dark, and believable tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished and ive got no words. Im breathless. So sad. So tragic. So plausible. So relateable. So good.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
So I'm all ready to get freaked out by this book and well it didn't happen, I mean there is definitely a psychological thriller type thing going on, but horror, no! And the story when I read it played like a monotone voice in my head so it was kind of boring and dry, however, I did finish it because I wanted to know the ending so the stories subject matter was at least interesting. So basically not as scary as I thought it would have been given the hype surrounding the book.
JMTJTC 5 months ago
"Being asked to read another writer’s rough draft is the literary equivalent of being asked to help a friend move a couch to a new place." Genre: Horror/Psychological Thriller Number of Pages: 286 Perspective: First Person with Alternating Timelines Location: Boston Suburbs, MA When their eldest teenage daughter seemingly starts to lose her mind, the family in A Head Full of Ghosts turns to their church and a reality show for exorcism help. Is she really possessed by a demon or is it schizophrenia? TL;DR: A fascinating look at the intersection of religion, mass media, and mental health. Full Review: https://judgingmorethanjustthecover.com/2019/10/review-head-full-of-ghosts-paul-tremblay.html
Anonymous 11 months ago
This is not horror, it is a psychological thriller, like everyone points out. I didnt love this book. I too, let the Stephen King review push me into reading it. The book drags. Its a very tediously paced book. Its also filled with rediculous scenerios that just wouldnt happen. I started skimming through page after page. Well after half way nothing was happening and I almost put it down. Im glad I didnt. Very little happens until you get near the end, but the ending, is worth it! In my opinion, the ending saved this book.
vkain More than 1 year ago
Ok, so I bought this book thinking it was going to be scary. My teacher thought it was scary. Heck even Stephen King said it scared the sh*t out of him. I mean if Stephen King is getting the sh*t scared out of him it must be scary. I mean from the author who wrote Cujo and The Shining to give this book such a glowing recommendation who was I to doubt. I love Stephen King books. He has a way of writing that creeps you out. I'm sorry to say however that this book failed. It was written well I'm not saying it wasn't. I am writing my review based on the fact that his was supposed to be a horror book. Psychological thriller maybe, but scary it ain't. Perhaps I'm just desensitized toward the subject matter of possession. After all there is a possession movie made almost every year. Anyway it didn't scare me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Paul Tremblay is a master at creating those moments where on the surface everything seems fine, but deep down you know something is unsettling. I loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not you normal paranormal copycat story.
alysania More than 1 year ago
I LOVE a good horro movie and a good horror novel, so it's no surprise I loved this book. It gets a bit gorey and graphic at points, but that's to be expected in the genre. The ending left me with more questions than answers, and I love it when a book keeps me wondering even long after I've finished the last page. Excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The twist will get you. I loved this book.
FroggyBella More than 1 year ago
Great Book, Very Different. This book was not what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it. It was really well written, well thought out. The story keeps you guessing and a little off kilter because you aren't sure what is actually the true story. How the story is presented is disturbing and creepy at times, but it was impossible to put down. I read it in one day, I had to know what happened and how things turned out. I highly recommend this book!
bookworm_451 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not finish, most likely will not finish. Not sure what I was reading but definitely not what I was expecting to read.
SteveDeg More than 1 year ago
Written in the classic horror of New England. A family spiraling down the dark corridors of possession, of which, the author leads the readers to think madness or sickness. Creepy in the tradition of Shirley Jackson. A real treat for the supernatural and haunting tale fans.
insanepoet65 More than 1 year ago
The main reason I got this one is because Stephen King (master of goo gore and horror) said it scared the hell out of him. If it scares the master then it has to be good, right? RIGHT! For starters, this book needs to come with a warning label: DO NOT START IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING ELSE TO DO, LIKE EATING, GOING TO WORK, TIME WITH THE FAMILY, ETC.! Once you start, you will not want to stop. And once you are done you are going to sit and stare at the book and wonder “What the hell did I just read?” Take a middle class family, The Barretts, and lay the father off from a job he has had for a year. Add the stress of him not being able to find a job and the wife is the main bread winner in the house. Then said father goes religious, like totally religious. Insisting the family goes to church, pray, etc., and takes it to a high extent. The mother does not share the same view, and the daughters (one a teenager and the other an eight year old) do not know what to make of this. THEN, the teenage daughter starts exhibiting some strange behavior. Like beyond the norm of teen angst strange. It starts with stories she shares with her sister, and snowballs out of control. Before you know it, the father has convinced his wife to get the family on a reality television show called The Possession. The snowball is now getting bigger and faster. After the snowball crashes, it is not over. What happens after the events of The Possession reality tv show is more horrifying than what happened in the show. The image given at the end of the book has stuck with me and still sends the chills up my spine.
silencenomore More than 1 year ago
The Barrett's were a family willing to risk it all to save their daughter Marjorie from a psychotic breakdown. Her little sister Merry tries so hard to play and be her friend. In response she gets the actions of a demon. They were basically a normal family. Until one day everything went completely haywire. Someone is to blame for the ghastly events which leave this house, the unspeakable. Once you think you know, think again. So the priest, film crew, and psychiatrist fit into the plot. Leaving you with twists and turns. Great anticipation, and uncertainty in the mind of a young lady deemed unstable. Is she, or perhaps it's just the rest of the family. I give this book four stars. Kris
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MCT_Book_Club More than 1 year ago
Rating: 3.5* Memory is a funny thing. You never know if what you remember actually happened or is your mind just telling you it happened. I’ve read somewhere, that whenever you recall a past event, you’re actually remembering the last time you recalled the event and not the event itself. I don’t know how far this is true, what I do know is that my own memory can be a dirty liar. This book is centered around the alleged possession of Marjorie and is told from the point of view of her younger sister Merry. Or rather multiple viewpoints of Merry's ; eight year old Merry, twenty three year old Merry, alternative personality Merry. My favorite aspect of the book was the relationship the sisters shared before it all went to hell, perhaps even while it was going to hell. I loved 8 year old Merry, I found her simply adorable, and perhaps this is because I have a younger sister I tended to relate to their relationship more. The thing is, I don’t know that I would classify this as horror exactly. It was suspenseful. It was mysterious. It didn’t scare me. It had its moments of subtle creepiness but it wasn’t nearly enough for me.That final twist was interesting but predictable. I didn’t catch the twist within the twist, but I am not a morning person and I can’t be expected to notice anything the author doesn’t come out and tell me straight at 6 in the morning which is when I finished this book. Was anyone in fact possessed? Personally I don’t think so, but what do I know. Not a bad book but not what I expected at all. I enjoyed the writing and cared about the characters. However if you’re expecting gruesomeness and have a high tolerance for the creepy, then this book will fall short of your expectations. If you want suspense without the gory, bloody, creepy horror, you might like it more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nice twist(ed) ending