A Head Full of Ghosts
- 304 Pages
- On-Sale Date: 06/02/2015
- ISBN: 9780062363237
- Trim Size: 6.000in x 9.000in x 1.010in
WINNER OF THE 2015 BRAM STOKER AWARD FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL
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.
Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book Awards and is the author of 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 wife and two children.
Tremblay's new book is dark, disturbing, and totally entrancing. I loved every second of it! You will tear through the pages looking for answers and be terrified to turn off the lights when you're finished. - Chantal Coughlin, Andover Bookstore
As you know, I'm a fan of horror, and a terribly picky snob about what I see as an important and ill- treated arm of fiction. As a well-read enthusiast of this poorly represented genre, believe me when I say that A Head Full of Ghosts may the most frightening work of horror I've read since William Blatty's The Exorcist.And that's the existential cherry-on-top: modern media and communications make this completely different from anything Blatty has given us. There is no patriarchal hero coming in to rescue Marjorie. There is the damning indictment on a society too full of voyeurism and knowledge without wisdom. And there's the persistent uncertainty of Marjorie's true condition. Any way you choose to look at it, this child is imperiled by evil. I lost a full night's sleep pondering the existential questions an information society imposes upon us all. - Karen Tallant, Booksellers At Laurelwood
In the age of Paranormal Activity and reality shows, the best way to deal with a possessed teenage girl is to give her and her family their own show. Told through the eyes of the younger sister (as a child and looking back as an adult), Head Full of Ghosts weaves together the power of family, religion, and all those things we tell ourselves to get through the day. Peeling back the story as an adult, the younger sister looks back almost coldly on the defining months in her family's life. And encountering it as a child, she lives for the attention of the crew and her older sister. Tremblay throws in another POV to make sure that the reader takes this horrorific look into our current entertainment tastes as seriously or as mockingly as he wants us to. - April Gosling, Boulder Book Store
Just found time this week to read HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS and it's brilliant! I love the references to the Boston molasses flood and was elated with the Laura Mulvey reference (it's not too often that one of my favorite feminist film critics is name dropped in a ghost story). I love unreliable narration that leaves you questioning and the dual identity as a hyped up young blogger/precocious child was so well done. I was so freaked out by Marjorie's sneaking in the room and stealing the books and that creepy cardboard house! I think the book adds so many layers to the possession myth [sorry, I'm a skeptic!]--but that we can be possessed by our beliefs/religious fever (as the father) or by a mental illness. So much good stuff! I couldn't put it down and can't wait to handsell it. - Kate Layte, Papercuts J.P.
I finished "A Headful of Ghosts". I loved it, but, man, it shook me. I really loved Merry as a little girl, and thought that Tremblay did an amazing job of capturing the childhood spirit and innocence. Ultimately I was very sad for her. Truly tragic. - Sean Curran, Doylestown Bookshop
"A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS" was soooooo good I had to keep going and it was completely worth it. I loved the blurry line between possession and mental illness. I loved the broken father, broken home theme that pulls on you throughout. That in itself is scarier than any of the Exorcism-style-spooks. This was such an interesting look at so many issues thrust right into the public eye and how impossible it is to deal with that. I want to say it was delightful, but I'm going to have to admit it was disturbing in the best way. Fantastic." - Brittany Jackson, Joseph-Beth Booksellers
- Matt Nixon, Booksellers at Laurelwood
An incisive, thoroughly of-the-moment psychological horror story, A Head Full of Ghosts (9780062363237) by Paul Tremblay is creepy, high-wire suspense, as well as trenchant social critique. Is 14 year-old Marjorie Barrett schizophrenic, possessed by an evil spirit or simply a deviously troubled adolescent? The pervasive miasma of dread that hangs over A Head Full of Ghosts is pierced by well-crafted (and well-timed) jolts, as well as the pointed observations and (often) unintended humor of Tremblay's remarkably well-drawn and fully-fleshed narrator, Merry Barrett, the troubled Marjorie's little sister. While horror fans should love A Head Full of Ghosts, it is much more than another genre entry. Forget the countless literal-minded, marketing-driven imitators that have come before: Paul Tremblay has delivered the real "next Gone Girl". Working within a genre tradition and possessing all the requisite shocks, bumps and jaws drops, A Head Full of Ghosts comes from a definite, coherent point of view and has something resonant to say about our current culture. The only thing scarier than the horrors Tremblay presents are readers immune to the horrors he presents. Embrace or ignore the "horror" designation, just don't let it keep you away. A Head Full of Ghosts is so, so smart and about the most fun read I've come across in a while."
- WILLIAM CARL , Booksellers at Laurelwood
A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay is the kind of scary novel that has more on its mind than just the scares. When a family believes their eldest daughter is possessed, they allow a reality TV show to document and air a program detailing their trauma. But is Marjorie actually possessed? Could she be seeking out attention or actually developing schizophrenia? As seen through the eyes of her eight year old sister, the answers aren't always easy . . . even when the sister is an adult, looking back on her experience of watching her older sister fall apart and trying to make sense of what happened through the tropes of horror films and gothic literature. This meta aspect of the novel will appeal to many (as we have seen THE EXORCIST and we all understand its trappings), but Tremblay offers us even more. We see a family torn apart by forces beyond their control . . . whether they be supernatural or not. Can any family survive such an onslaught? The incredibly fast-paced and extremely creepy (without ever resorting to cheap gore) novel will appeal to many different readers, but especially those who love THE YELLOW WALLPAPER or HOUSE OF LEAVES. It's a spooky story, but with a tragic, heart-felt difference. What a book!
“A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare.” - Stephen King
“Paul Tremblay’s terrific A Head Full of Ghosts generates a haze of an altogether more serious kind: the pleasurable fog of calculated, perfectly balanced ambiguity.” - New York Times Book Review
“…progressively gripping and suspenseful — (Tremblay’s) ultimate, bloodcurdling revelation is as sickeningly satisfying as it is masterful.” - NPR Books
“Tremblay expertly ratchets up the suspense until the tension is almost at its breaking point.” - Kirkus Reviews
“[B]rilliantly creepy.” - Library Journal
“The novel is stylishly written and well-conceived.” - Booklist
“Gripping and truly scary, this book feels of the moment in a way few thrillers do.” - B&N Reads
“[A] scary story, indeed.” - BookPage
“A mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising disturbing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.” - Buzzfeed
“[A] creepy, interesting read, great for horror fans.” - SFRevu
“Crackling with dark energy and postmodern wit...[this] superb novel evokes the very best in the tradition—from Shirley Jackson to Mark Z. Danielewski and Marisha Pessl—while also feeling fresh and utterly new. Deeply funny and intensely terrifying, it’s a sensory rollercoaster and not to be missed.” - Megan Abbott, author of The Fever and Dare Me
“Loved it. Highly recommended for anyone who loves engrossing literary horror-undertones of The House of Leaves (but far more accessible) and The Exorcist, and redolent of Shirley Jackson.” - Ellen Datlow
“Dark, brilliant, and impossible to predict, [this] is more than a perfect horror story. It’s a smart and savage look at American culture in all its madness, and the price girls are forced to pay by a society obsessed with spectacle and sin.” - Cara Hoffman, author of So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love You
“A genuinely scary, post-modern homage to classic horror that invokes Stanley Kubrik and Shirley Jackson in equal measure, but also manages to innovate on nearly every page. [It] is unlike any horror novel you’ve read, and yet hauntingly, frighteningly familiar.” - Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead and Come Closer
“A Head Full of Ghosts doesn’t end just because you close the book. Some horror, it bleeds through the pages, gets onto your hands, stays with you. You’ll be thinking about this one long after you’ve read it.” - Stephen Graham Jones, author of Demon Theory and Ledfeather
“Paul Tremblay is an astonishingly talented writer, but even better, he’s twisted, and fun. A Head Full of Ghosts is mind-bending—scary, sad, sweet, funny, sick. ... . Terrifying, hilarious, smart, and satisfying.” - Stewart O'Nan, author of The Speed Queen, The Night Country, and A Prayer for the Dying
“A Head Full of Ghosts is the literary lovechild of Shirley Jackson and William Peter Blatty, a novel that’s as disturbing as the worst nightmare you ever had as a kid, and as impossible to forget.” - Elizabeth Hand, author of Generation Loss and Available Dark
“Part psychological thriller, part demonic possession horror, this book is a juicy, fast-paced genre bombshell that just happens to be one of the smartest novels you’ll read this year.” - The Life Sentence
“A Head Full of Ghosts is one of the best novels released this year. ...Paul Tremblay confirms what we already knew: he’s one of the greatest horror writers today.” - This is Horror (UK)
“This will easily be remembered as one of the most powerfully disquieting and deeply unsettling novels of the year, and may mark something of a turning point in the mainstream horror genre.” - Shock Totem
“By turns horrifying, very funny, melancholy, ironic and, with each page, dazzlingly original, A Head Full of Ghosts is a one-book rocket ride through contemporary society where, if Evil doesn’t actually exist in a Biblical sense, we’re just the folks to invent it on our own.” - The Day newspaper
“Tremblay paints a believable portrait of a family in extremis emotionally as it attempts to cope with the unthinkable ...Whether psychological or supernatural, this is a work of deviously subtle horror.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)