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A Head Full of Ghosts

by Paul Tremblay

Publishers Weekly Is the protagonist of this book a demon-possessed victim or a clever, manipulative teen? This savvy tale of horror tantalizingly keeps the reader waiting for an answer. When 14-year-old Marjorie Barrett begins behaving as though she's demonically possessed, her Massachusetts family starts a reality-based television show, The Possession, to earn the money they desperately need to keep their household together. But is Marjorie really channeling a creature of supernatural evil, or is she just good at Internet research, which keeps her one step ahead of her gullible parents and doctors? Marjorie's younger sister, Meredith, who is recounting these events 15 years after her family's ordeal, even wonders whether it's possible for Marjorie "to be both possessed by a demon and faking it too." Tremblay paints a believable portrait of a family in extremis emotionally as it attempts to cope with the unthinkable, but at the same time he slyly suggests that in a culture where the wall between reality and acting has eroded, even the make believe might seem credible. Whether psychological or supernatural, this is a work of deviously subtle horror. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (June) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal The Barretts are an ordinary family living in a Boston suburb until older daughter Marjorie suddenly displays symptoms of acute schizophrenia. Her increasingly erratic behavior affects her whole family. Her mother drinks and tries to get Marjorie professional help, her father turns to the Catholic Church for aid, and younger sister Merry just wants her sibling to go back to being normal. Is Marjorie sick? Is she faking? Or is she possessed by the devil? Because they are broke, the Barretts take a rather modern solution to the problem by having a film crew chronicle them for a new reality TV show. VERDICT In this brilliantly creepy novel, Tremblay (The Little Sleep) uses the clever framing device of a reporter who wants to write a book about the Barretts by convincing Merry to tell her version of the events. The author also acknowledges the books and movies that influenced his story, most obviously Peter Blatty's The Exorcist but also Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. [See Prepub Alert, 12/15/15.]-MM Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Now here's a cool idea for a reality TV show: follow a family whose daughter is possessed by a demon. That's the set-up for this compelling horror story. The Barretts are an unremarkable suburban family unremarkable, that is, until teenage daughter Marjorie starts undergoing a shocking mental breakdown. When traditional methods of curing her fail, the family turns to spiritual methods and eventually to an exorcism. Because they need the money, they agree to have their intimate lives played out on television screens around the world. Let's just say none of it the exorcism and the reality show goes well. It all goes very badly, indeed. The novel is stylishly written and well-conceived, with lifelike characters and an air of plausibility about it, as if all this really could happen. Tremblay, a Bram Stoker Award nominee, has delivered another quality horror novel.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal A creepy but not too creepy title. Young Marjorie Barrett is possessed by a demon, and her family decide to allow a TV crew to film them and the possession episodes, with an exorcism to be the series finale. Not surprisingly, this goes very, very badly. The novel's narrator is Marjorie's younger sister, Merry, who tells the story from her current perspective as a 23-year-old adult and from her point of view at eight years old, as the events at the Barrett house transpired. And then there's Karen, a blogger rewatching the TV series while live blogging about the episodes. What actually happened in the Barrett household and whether or not Marjorie was possessed are discussed by all three narrators-readers will have to decide if any of them is reliable. One of the more interesting moments in the work occurs in Merry's apartment when she meets with a reporter to discuss the possession and the reporter sees shelves of classic possession books and DVDs, except for one glaring omission (the missing title, Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, should give readers a heads-up about what's really going on). The horror here is less graphic than in The Exorcist or The Omen and will appeal to readers who aren't sure how deeply into the genre they want to go. Merry's bookshelves will provide a great bibliography for next reads. VERDICT The questions surrounding what possession is (and is not) as well as how television crews can manipulate reality will intrigue readers.-Laura Pearle, Milton Academy, MA Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

 

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