Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Review: A Head Full of Ghosts

Earlier this year Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts won the Bram Stoker award for Best Novel, a fact that added it immediately to my reading list. Having just finished it, I'm happy to say this continues the trend of excellent horror novels I've read this year, following works by Stephen King, Joe Hill, Justin Cronin and Grady Hendrix.

Like Hendrix's My Best Friend's Exorcism, Tremblay's work deals with the possession of a young girl, but then moves into a Rashomon-like narrative, following the story of 14-year-old Marjorie Barrett, told from the point of view of her sister Meredith at age twenty-three (talking with an investigator), age eight (when the possession occurred), and from the point of view of a young blogger obsessed with Possessed, a reality show that ran for six episodes and focused on the events at the time.

The novel looks deeply at the life of a troubled family, how reality TV (and fame associated with it) is not a solution but instead something worse for the family, and how in many ways these two young girls are forced to perform to the camera, making better TV, but at an incredibly steep cost.

As horror the book worked incredibly well, comparing it to Hendrix's work, which in many ways is a love-letter to childhood friendships, A Head Full of Ghosts ends up leading you to some very dark places, places that move from a sense of investigation to one of exploitation and eventually horror. In the end I was incredibly impressed with the novel and will likely add it to my own collection.

A really good read.

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