A head full of ghost by Paul Tremblay


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The Barrett family is a typical middle class American family: father, mother and two daughters, 8 years old Meredith and 14 years old Marjorie. Like every other family, also the Barrett’s have some issues, the father lost his job and the major daughter shows symptoms of a mental illness, for this reason she is seeing a doctor.

The situation and the symptoms get worse, the medications seems not to have relevant effects: John Barrett, in the middle of a mystical-religious phase, is convinced that his daughter is possessed by a demon. To help her he persuade his family to being part of a television production, “Possessed”, that to be filmed needs the family to be followed by a television troupe in the house.

These things I’m telling you do not happen in the present time, but are told as a memory by Merry who, fifteen years after the events, retrace the events for Rachel, a non-fiction writer who has the job to write a book about the Barrett family.

So we have second-hand events, averaged by the passed time and by the fact that Merry was a child when she lived through them. We have the Possessed tv series analysed by a horror blogger, Karen. We have religious fanaticism (Marjorie is possessed or simply very ill?) and the cruel television reality (how much is true – and false – in the troupe shootings?).

The very good part of the novel are the first two sections of the book, where the elements are perfectly balanced, the story is fast paced and thrilling and horrific. Another good point id the fact that at the end we don’t have certain answers, but lots food for thoughts.

Reflections concerning the plot – we have so many unreliable sources that everything could be true  – and concerning the other two main themes, the religious fanaticism and television cruelty, that are catalyst of other events.

I talked about the book with other people, and it emerged that the third part is the more weak, maybe also because of the homage reference (that I did not catch immediately) to Shirley Jackson that can appear as a way to simplify the ending. I forgive the weakness of the last section because the other two-thirds are a wonderful reading experience.

A head full of ghost by Paul Tremblay ★★★★★

*I read this book in english