Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Title: A Head Full of Ghosts
Author: Paul Tremblay
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Audible
Content Alert: This one is scary, and it deals with a family suffering from serious mental illness. There's also some swearing.

Merry is seven when life at home starts to fall apart. To tell the truth, it wasn't all that great before then, with her dad's unemployment and her parents fighting all the time, but when Merry is seven, that's when her teenage sister Marjorie starts to go crazy. The family turns first to a psychiatrist, then to the family priest, and finally to a team of producers who turn their family life into a reality show. A Head Full of Ghosts documents not just the events in that fated year, but also Merry's life fifteen years later, when a writer wants to interview her about the events that so marked her childhood.

While A Head Full of Ghosts provides all the bumps in the night that the reader of horror might expect, it's more than simply a horror novel. Instead, it's a book about mental illness, exploitation, sacrifice, wisdom and love. Marjorie's transformation, and the way it plays out in her family, is incredibly painful to watch, and the commentary on predatory reality shows is interesting. The final twist of the novel turns something merely scary into a truly creepy tale that won't be easy to forget.