Book Review: A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay

As an avid dark fiction reader, I am constantly on the hunt for new and exciting authors to read. And since I began writing this blog I have, of necessity, begun reading outside my comfort zone. As a reader, this is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’ve discovered such authors as Stephen Graham Jones, Adam Cesare, David James Keaton, and Richard Thomas. In addition to these and other wonderfully original authors, I’ve also recently discovered the work of Paul Tremblay. Paul is an author who does his own thing and does it remarkably. His most recent offering, A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, is one of my top 5 favorite novels of 2015.

From the product description page on Amazon:

coverThe 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.


I love a good exorcism story when I can find one. I’ve read William Peter Blatty’s flagship of the sub-genre four or five times over the years. The problem is, with a very few exceptions, it’s quite difficult to find a good exorcism story. In fact, until recently the last really great novel to be published along those lines was A GOOD AND HAPPY CHILD, by Justin Evans. That was in 2008. After that you must fast forward all the way to 2015 to find Paul Tremblay’s A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS.

A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS is the story of an average middle-class family whose teenage daughter seems to be suffering from schizophrenia, or possibly something much more heinous. Told mostly from the point of view of Meredith Barret at various stages of her life, it’s a deeply moving, often heart-rending story filled with emotion and rendered by an author with an obvious passion for character development. Tremblay’s voice is by turns sarcastic, sardonic, and frequently hilarious, and his characters are eccentric and believable. If you’re like me, you’ll become so attached to Merry that you’ll want to take her beneath your wing and shelter her from the storm of terror that becomes her life.

A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS is dark, literary fiction at it’s finest, written by a master wordsmith who loves the English language and loves his job, a fact that’s readily apparent in his meticulous attention to detail and his poetic prose. The flow of the story is natural and perfectly paced, carrying you to a truly unexpected, horrifying climax. I LOVED this book and I’ll likely read it again someday. And I’ll definitely read Tremblay again, every single time he writes a new book. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS is picture perfect, and Tremblay is the real deal. If you haven’t read his work yet, you should go remedy that ASAP.

You can buy A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS and all of Paul’s other books from his Amazon author page or at Barnes & Noble.

About the author: In addition to A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, Paul Tremblay is the author of The Little Sleep, No Sleep till Wonderland, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (co-written with Stephen Graham Jones).

His fiction and essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Supernatural Noir, and numerous Year’s Best anthologies. He is the author of the short speculative fiction collections In the Mean Time and Compositions for the Young and Old and the hard-boiled/dark fantasy novella City Pier: Above and Below. He served as fiction editor of CHIZINE and as co-editor of Fantasy Magazine, and was also the co-editor of the Creatures anthology (with John Langan). Paul is currently on the board of directors for the Shirley Jackson Awards as well. You can learn more about Paul at:



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