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A Head Full of Ghosts

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  24,212 Ratings  ·  3,790 Reviews
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 Wander
Hardcover, 286 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by William Morrow
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Paul I got teary eyed when I saw the tweet. I started reading for pleasure (never mind writing) because of Stephen King. That he read the book and really…moreI got teary eyed when I saw the tweet. I started reading for pleasure (never mind writing) because of Stephen King. That he read the book and really liked it means the world to me. My phone was blowing up when the tweet happened, and I stopped what I was doing (cleaning the house, rearranging furniture), sat down with a lovely adult beverage and my laptop and basked. ;)(less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
paul tremblay interviews me, or "me" here:

this book is about a fourteen-year-old girl named marjorie, her eight-year-old sister merry, and the events leading up to marjorie's exorcism. your attention, i have it, yes? this is both a horror novel and a psychological suspense novel, but then it goes the extra step into self-referential metafiction in a way that is natural and not gimmicky-annoying, probably because that part involves a delightful character n
Chelsea Humphrey
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book blew me away. I might have to come back and alter my review because I'm not entirely sure how to process this book.

All I will say about the plot is it revolves around the Barrett family and we are trying to solve the puzzle of 14 year old Marjorie's illness. Is she mentally ill? Is she possessed by a demon? Anything more would spoil it all and I refuse to do such a thing!

This is definitely a book that will stay with me. While it's not overly gory or "scary" in the traditional sense, it
I rarely give one star reviews. I am sure Paul Tremblay is a nice guy, but after two of his books, I cannot stand him as a writer.

The story in this book was silly and contrived. The characters were blah and I didn't believe their motivation for anything they did. If someone got mad, it felt forced. If something weird occurred it felt like it was just there so something could be weird.

The book is not thrilling. It is not scary. It is bad Exorcist fan fiction. I am not sure if anyone was ever rea
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I didn't know whether to give this book 5 stars or 1, so I'm meeting in the middle.

Yes, it scared me. In fact, it's exactly 2:41 am and I'm awake because of this book. And I have to pee, but I'm too scared to go to the bathroom by myself and if I wake up my fiance to turn on the bathroom light and wait for me, he will think I'm some sort of mixture between stupid and crazy. And he would probably be right.

There are some problems with this book, including the pacing, the believability of the 8 yea
Janie C.
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had high expectations for this novel. I had read Paul Tremblay's collection of short stories, In the Mean Time, earlier this year, and I greatly enjoyed it. A Head Full of Ghosts exceeded my expectations.

The novel revolves around the Barretts, a middle class suburban family. When the elder of the two daughters, Marjorie, begins exhibiting odd behavior, the family becomes concerned. As Marjorie's behavior becomes exceeding bizarre, psychology and religion become involved. Is Marjorie having a m
I was pretty surprised by how forgettable this one was. It's one of the more popular horror novels this year, and the premise (about a young girl named Merry witnessing her family dealing with the possible demonic possession of their daughter and their choice to not only perform an exorcism but to film it for a reality show) is a set up for some chilling entertainment. But I was uninterested through most of this book.

Much of it has to do with the terribly inconsistent pacing and lack of narrati
3.5 stars!

I enjoyed this novel of possession/psychological horror/reality television, but I didn't out and out love it. It's almost impossible to tell you why without spoilers, but I'll try. 
Here's what I liked the most:
-the shout outs to other authors in the dark fiction genre. I'm sure I didn't pick up on them all, but I love being made to feel like I'm in on something;
-the references to other characters in dark fiction classics-one of which is glaringly obvious, and since she was a most fasc
This is a kind of weird experience.

Granted it’s not the first time that Karen has popped up in a book as a character (I can think of two others), but this is the first time that she appears quite a bit (at least by name, as the character isn’t actually supposed to be her). We’ll get back to this later on the review though.

The book is about a family that was once featured on a reality tv show called Possession, which was as the name suggests about demonic possession. The show featured a New Engl
Blake Crouch
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'll keep this short and sweet: one of the best horror novels (maybe the best) I've ever read.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
!!! 2015 Winner of Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel!!!

I read this last summer so the details are a bit sketchy now to pull off an in-depth review, but I hate leaving review spaces blank, and this is me trying to push some of my favorites back in front of your face again in case you missed them. A Head Full of Ghosts just snagged the 2015 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel which should help give it a much-deserved boost in exposure.

I loved this one, not only because parts of it genuinely creeped m
Jack Tripper
I've never been big on possession/exorcism stories. The whole notion strikes me as...silly, somehow. As an avid horror fiction fan, I can buy into all manner of nasty creatures and supernatural phenomena while reading, but the concept of Satan or some other demon possessing a young girl, with the battle for her soul being waged by some priest and his prayers just doesn't do it for me. So it took me a while to get to this one, despite the rave reviews. Some horror buffs here on Goodreads are of t ...more
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, 2016-shelf
What an awesome surprise! Mr. Paul Tremblay knows his horror motifs, and he (and I) love how they're layered and layered some more, starting from truly delightful character sets with the slowly creeping horror, the slide into a normal family's confusion and pain, and then...


What? A straight possession tale and not one about a family taking care of a mentally ill daughter? One who suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia?

Oh yes, let's take this tale into a heavy-hitting commentary on re
destiny ☠ howling libraries
This book had been on my TBR for what seemed like forever, and I kept meaning to read it (I even bought a copy last spring!), but I just never got around to it—until an afternoon recently in which I needed to make an hour commute home and wanted an audiobook, so I looked at the “available now” section on my library’s audiobook inventory, found this, and that was all it took. I was so completely captivated from the start!

“Are you good at keeping secrets, Merry?”
“More often than not, they keep
Unfortunately, A Head Full of Ghosts was not for me, but if you are a fan of stories that, in part, mimic The Exorcist, you will probably enjoy this extremely dark work of fiction that combines possession of an evil spirit with a reenactment of same in the form of Reality TV and a family that all seem to be going off the deep end.

It begins super creepy with some pretty "crazy-weird-scary-icky" stories told, and ends with a virtual conglomeration of shockers and question marks that leave the door

Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Actually I'm not sure if I loved this book or hated it. It was one of those books that you read and you're kind of miserable the whole time, but it also kind of blows your mind and gets you thinking. Usually, I'm against thinking too hard. I'm lazy. But, in this case, I thought some really good points on feminism, the patriarchy, religious zealotry, and the media made it worth it to hurt my brain a little bit.

okay, I admit this is every day...

So, the premise of this book is about a young woman w
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
My man, Paulie T, who I had never heard of until last week, provided me with an exceptional ghost story for this long holiday weekend. This book is like what Cabin in the Woods did for the horror film genre. He takes all the stereotypical things you've seen before in other horror books and movies, but he knows it, and he has a great time with it.

The blog entries were an excellent tool to begin each section of the book. It was like reading a book and then reading someone else's commentary or ana
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
There's nothing wrong with me, Merry. Only my bones want to grow through my skin like the growing things and pierce the world.

A Head Full of Ghosts is a story from the POV of Merry Barrett. It opens with her many years later after the events surrounding her sister Marjorie, giving an interview to a writer for a non-fiction book based around her experience as an eight-year-old. We are then taken back to the Barrett house, where 14-year-old Marjorie has started acting out. In an effort to cure her
Myke Cole
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read A Head Full of Ghosts in a single day. I haven't done that since I was a kid.

A Head Full of Ghosts joins Joe Hill's N0S4A2 as the only book to truly frighten to the extent that it triggered hyper-vigilance and had me turning on lights in hallways and turning corners slowly to see what lurked behind them.

The book is clearly a love-letter to Tremblay's pantheon of horror heroes, and shows an exhaustive knowledge of haunted house and possession tales both in cinema and literature. It updates
3.5 stars.

This was a very difficult book for me to review. I found it very well written and it captured my attention to the very end.

The story revolves around the Barrett family; 14 year old Marjory is "sick". She admits to her 8 year old sister, Merry, that she "hears voices", but is that all there is to it? So much of this story is expertly woven to enable the reader to interpret each event as they will, without giving away any definite answers. This tactic worked magnificently in keeping my a
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Paul Tremblay has written one heck of a book. And hardly a Zombie to be found within it's pages ! In fact there has been a bidding war for movie rights: “EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features just won an auction for rights to make an elevated genre a head full of ghostsmovie from A Head Full Of Ghosts, the upcoming thriller novel by Paul Tremblay. William Morrow publishes the book next month. Focus prevailed in an auction that also had TriStar in hot pursuit. Deals are being closed for Ben Collins & Luk ...more
Lala BooksandLala
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller-mystery
Very atmospheric and spooky, a perfect read for the #spookathon!
Ellen Gail
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, horror, arc
This one is going to stay with me for a very long time. 5 fantastically creepy stars!

"There's nothing wrong with me, Merry. Only my bones want to grow through my skin like the growing things and pierce the world."

Y'all, anyone who knows me will tell you that I love horror. Horror and Ellen go together like peanut butter and jelly (which I also love.) Finding a well crafted horror novel or movie is harder than squishing a sharktopus through the eye of a needle.

A Head Full of Ghosts might be my fa
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
"My eyes were drawn to that crucifix and the deeply etched agony of Jesus' face."
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I could probably write two reviews for A Head Full of Ghosts, a really long version or a shorter version. I’m going with the short version though (okay, short for me) because then there will be no chance of revealing any spoilers. This is most definitely a book where you’ll want to experience all the surprises and twists for yourself. That said, I wish more people I know have read A Head Full of Ghosts so I could hit the
This is an intriguing tale of possession, religious zealotry, reality TV, and some very strange family dynamics.

Lots of things are creepy to Merry. That sounds about right for an eight year old. Ghosts, demons, priests, and the camera man who has fingernails that are long and clicky. Sometimes her older sister is creepy, too. More and more all the time. Except when she isn't.

It tickled me to run into a blogger by the name of Karen Brissette within the pages of this book. Granted, she used capi
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this audio in...well, 8 hours...but most of those hours were in one day. I went into this knowing nothing about it and I was riveted from the very beginning. An interesting take on the classic horror stories, this one is more cerebral and incorporates the present in a way that is fun to read. Different and creepy, this perfect October read might make you a little uncomfortable and more than a little bewildered, but very entertained. 4.5 stars
Brian Keene
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
Absolutely remarkable. Once in every decade, a novel comes along that can truly be called a game-changer for the horror genre. This is that novel. A fantastic, clever, and refreshing modern take on the old demonic possession trope. And an ending that will be talked about and debated for years to come.
Exorcism stories are particularly well suited to unreliable narrators and psychological suspense, since the line between mental instability and demonic possession is easily blurred. Are we reading a story about an actual possession, or are we reading a story about a mentally ill young woman who believes she is possessed, or—one more layer—are we reading a story about a young woman who is intentionally deceitful, who wants others to believe she is possessed for some other reason?

Tremblay gives va
Cindy Newton
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books, nook
This is an interesting--and surprising--book. I read this as a group read for the Horror Aficionados group for their September? October? read (I don't know--I'm behind!) and I have to admit, I didn't bother to read the blurb. I just charged it onto my Nook and (eventually) started reading it. I was expecting (and kind of hoping for) actual ghosts, so I was a little disappointed by the lack of apparitions. However, there are plenty of scares to be had, on varying levels, in the plot as it is.

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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 sto
More about Paul Tremblay

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“On the morning of the exorcism, I stayed home from school.” 14 likes
“Ideas. I'm possessed by ideas. Ideas that are as old as humanity, maybe older, right? Maybe those ideas were out there just floating around before us, just waiting to be thought up. Maybe we don't think them, we pluck them out from another dimension or another mind.” 6 likes
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