Review: A Head Full Of Ghosts

A Head Full Of Ghosts
By: Paul Tremblay

When I found out I was interviewing Paul Tremblay along with Thomas Olde Heuvelt, I knew I needed to pick up one of his books; A Head Full Of Ghosts was that book for me. I must say while reading it on my own I was not thrilled or scared by it, at least until I spoke with Paul about what his goals were with the book. If you are looking for a break neck paced horror novel then this one is not for you, however if you want an intellectually inviting conversation about horror and what society thinks of it then this is your next read! 

Paul Tremblay: "Paul Tremblay is the author of DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL'S ROCK and the award-winning
A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS. His other novels include THE LITTLE SLEEP (Henry Holt), NO SLEEP TILL WONDERLAND (Henry Holt), SWALLOWING A DONKEY'S EYE (Chizine Publications), and the YA novel FLOATING BOY AND THE GIRL WHO COULDN'T FLY (co-written with Stephen Graham Jones, as P. T. Jones). 

He is the author of the short story collections COMPOSITIONS FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD (Prime) and IN THE MEAN TIME (Chizine Publications). His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous year's best anthologies. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including CREATURES: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan). Paul is a member of the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts, has a master's degree in Mathematics, and has no uvula. You can find him online at

Paul is very truthful and declarative in his bios. He once gained three inches of height in a single twelve hour period, and he does not have a uvula. His second toe is longer than his big toe, and yes, on both feet. He has a master’s degree in mathematics, teaches AP Calculus, and once made twenty-seven three pointers in a row. He enjoys reading The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher aloud in a faux-British accent to his two children. He is also reading this bio aloud, now, with the same accent. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts and he is represented by Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management." (

Plot: "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."(

General Thoughts: 
  • Originally when I began this book I was hoping to have the chance of a horrific and haunting ride, however as the book moved into its own I felt that it was not meant to be horrific or scary at least completely and solely.
    • Paul later confirmed this when he said that the book  was his way of coping with and having a conversation to the public about exorcist books. Which I feel is a much more accurate representation of what this book was doing and therefore succeeding at!
  • The blog posts honestly irritated me to no end when I began! I know, laugh at me all you want I know because I am a blogger I should enjoy writing posts and reading posts; however sometimes that is not the case. 
    • Towards the end of the novel I loved to read the blog posts because I had a connection to the creator of the posts! As you can see I am very character driven even in my horror popcorn books I need to connect with characters. 
  • The reality show added a new depth to the story which I felt was needed to add some complexities that the plot was otherwise lacking.
  • While I know I said that these characters were lacking something special to me, I found Merry and Marjorie to be endearing and a unique look at how children cope with the unexplainable. I think that these characters have a good backbone for some EPIC character growth, however the book was way too short for that to occur completely.
  • Merry: The innocence that is depicted in Merry makes me have some slight hope for humanity. I know that is an odd thing to say about a thrilling book about exorcisms, however in light of recent events Merry's naive and "basic" brain showed me that humans regardless of age have some good in them. I know it is an odd thing to pull from a young female character, but I found it to be important how well Paul captures adolescence. Merry has a very unique perspective on the whole series of events. 
  • Marjorie: I felt that Marjorie was more of a literary device, or tool to convey your thoughts to aside from the person she was meant to be. Marjorie had so many horrific things happen to her through the book, from physical harm to emotional damage from her family. She seemed to have so much unloaded onto her all at once that made her seem unreal and fake to a point where caring was pointless. Perhaps a better phrase would be that Marjorie is the Voodoo doll of the story, she had no true connection to me. 
  • The plot to me seemed more about how humans can manipulate and embellish stories and and horrific events into being something totally un true. 
  • In this book I saw elements from the exorcist plot line, from modern movies and from older works of fiction; however what I thought was not going to work for Paul's advantage actually saved the book for me. His conversation with the reader about horror as a genre is flawless!
  • The writing was good to begin with, however in the end I enjoyed the blog writing more than his actual style. 
    • Towards the end he had a more rushed pacing and heightened climax of the book. 
  • I really did enjoy how simplistic it was to read for face value, and yet how much he was able to hide in the depths of such simple words.
  • Pacing of this book is very fun and fast for the majority of the way through; however the blog posts slow the reading speed down quite a bit until you know who is writing them. I felt that this book in general had no pacing issues, but rather a few bumps in the otherwise streamline story.
If you are looking for a book to make you think about the influence of horror on both the psyche and human relations this is the book you want. However if you are looking for more of a thriller and a dark tale I would recommend my next reviewed book: Winter People by: Jennifer McMahon!

Rating: 4 stars

Happy Reading!


Popular Posts