Head Full of Ghosts (Novel) Review

Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts is the best horror novel…no, no…best novel I’ve read in a long, long time.

I know. I know. I’m three years late with Head Full of Ghosts (why did I never hear of it before last month?!) As they say, it’s better to show up late and play catch up, then sit at home and watch Netflix alone. Do they say that? Maybe I’m the only one.

Head Full of Ghosts begins with a successful author interviewing Meredith (Merry) about her childhood trauma. Merry recounts that story, and the reader is plunged into the POV of an eight-year old girl. Now, child POV is tricky. Do you remember how you processed and retained information, especially adult information, at a young age? I really don’t. Actually, I only remember wearing nothing but underwear; a toy longsword shoved through waistband, as I donned a Batman cape and mask. Also, I might have casted my sister as the villain in my underwear Batman games.

Anyway, the POV of eight-year old Merry carries the reader. We follow her struggling family as they deal with finances, petty arguments, and the declining mental health of Merry’s older sister, Marjorie. However, the reader questions her mental capabilities. They ask, is she actually possessed by a demon? Then, a bunch of Exorcist-like stuff starts happening, and Tremblay does an amazing job of not ripping off the original source, but creating a beautiful conflict and tension of his own.

A haunting tale that sticks with the reader long after the end.

Listen, I’m not going to break down the entire plot of this novel. Too much happens. So, I’ll summarize it like this: The Exorcist meets American Horror Story: Roanoke. Yet, there’s so much more to the novel. Tremblay weaves in and out of young Merry’s perspective and her adult counterpart, perfectly capturing how the horrific events affected her psyche. He twists and turns the narrative, foreshadowing everything without giving away the brutal, unexpected, chilling ending. Head Full of Ghosts is a brilliant horror novel that will make you question everything about reality.

If you’re still reading this blog and not reading Head Full of Ghosts, then imagine this as bat I’m holding, and this as your head. Now, imagine I’m charging toward you, chasing you, screaming at the top of my lungs, “Quit sitting around. Get to his party and play catch up. Now.”

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