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Summary

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends psychological suspense and supernatural horror, reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist.

The lives of the Barretts, a suburban New England family, are torn apart when 14-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to halt 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 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. Fifteen years later a best-selling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories begin to surface, and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed.

©2015 Paul Tremblay (P)2016 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic reviews

" A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I'm pretty hard to scare." (Stephen King, best-selling author)
"Terrific.... Generates a haze of an altogether more serious kind: the pleasurable fog of calculated, perfectly balanced ambiguity." ( The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kaggy
  • United Kingdom
  • 30-03-18

Truly mad and deeply disturbing

This is a brilliant and genuinely disturbing piece of horror fiction skilfully intertwining themes of superstition, religion, mental illness, modern day rationality and the vulnerability of children in an economically beleaguered family.

In the story’s construction the writer is unashamedly influenced by Shirley Jackson and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, with the young heroine, Merry, sharing a similar name to the earlier heroine (Merricat). Like that book this one has a strange out of kilter atmosphere created out the mind of a very wise child. This follows Merry who is 8 years old and in the thrall of her older sister who at 14 years of age is displaying disturbing signs of mental illness. The early scenes where Merry is being cruelly baited by the sister are truly chilling but her trust in her big sister is relentless despite her growing bewilderment and fear. This is a story of a family torn apart by madness and economic misfortune but there is always the question of what is really going on and whose is the head that is full of ghosts.

For those familiar with the Exorcist, the ghastliness of the scenes depicting the apparent possession will hold no surprises but this goes far beyond a straightforward story of good versus evil. There are some bizarre events, including the portrayal of the family’s plight on reality television, but really this is no more crazy than the world we are currently experiencing. Joy Osmanski provides a seamless performance giving a credible voice to Merry as a child and a grown woman. Like Merry you will want to make sense of this story but no matter how thoroughly you analyse this, you will always be left with a head full of unfathomable mystery.

Top marks to this author. He is clearly a man who has tremendous talent and something fresh, new and intelligent to add to this genre.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Haunting

Possible one of the best audio books I've listened to this year. The best stories don't just end, this one I will be thinking about for a while.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A good, old-fashioned spooky story...

...with the end of every chapter leaving you wondering what to believe and what will happen next. Stephen King states this book ‘scared the living hell’ out of him. I wouldn’t go that far (or perhaps I’ve read too many Stephen King novels and have become desensitised!) but it’s a solid story with an unexpected ending.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Chilling!!

I'm not sure what I expected at all but this book was so good! A story of hauntings and exorcism or mental illness....you decide.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story<br />

This is an excellent and very moving story. It's not scary so if you are looking for that you may be disappointed. It moves briskly and the ending really got to me.

The only downside for me was the narration. The reader has a great voice however she struggles with male characters. I would have preferred that she not try to put on voices and instead just read the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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fantastic

I went into this not hoping for much and the only thing I can say is that I wish I'd bought it sooner. brilliant story and brilliant narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Started in the middle. !

I bought this book as liked the write up. Really enjoyed the story , great characterisation and an original take on the serial killer premise. Realised that this was a series so have now started from the beginning and am hooked on Jack Caffery and his trials and tribulations. If you enjoy a good serial killer mystery, this series is for you. Enjoy!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Easy to listen to and a twisty descriptive tale

The narrator was easy to listen to and the story was quite interesting. Worth a download. Bad side, story could have been shorter.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the most brilliant horror novels in years

narrator was really not exceptional. because she tried to change her voice too much it made serious scenes seem less serious, especially when she is interpreting a male. the book however was brilliant!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Slubberd
  • Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • 01-02-18

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

A Head Full of Ghosts bears more than a passing resemblance to Shirley Jackson's classic. Interestingly Tremblay mentions Jackson in the book as well as other very obvious similarities.

This book feels like a modern "reimagining" - as the directors like to say. I was way too disappointed in this to give the book any creedance.

Narrator was OK. 3 stars for her.