A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Ghosts

There has been a lot of hype and praise for this book (Stephen King apparently tweeted that this book scared the hell out of him) and many critics and readers have praised it. I don’t see it. For a book that comes in at 284 pages, it took way longer for me to finish then it should and I’m surprised I finished it. The writing is fine, Paul Trembly is a good writer but the story…bland. I didn’t realize that a majority of the book was going to be told from the perspective of 8-year-old Merry (my fault I guess) and I didn’t enjoy that view-point. To his credit, Trembly wrote Merry’s viewpoint well. So the story focused on Merry jumping from her 8-year-old self to 20 years later as an adult telling her story to a writer. And what is that story? 20 years previously Merry and her Mother, Father and older sister Marjorie were the subject of a short-lived reality show detailing the supposed possession and exorcism of 14-year-old Marjorie. There is much speculation as to whether or not Marjorie was actually possessed or suffering from mental illness and the reader gets to view her illness, how her parents deal with it and what it was like for Merry to be in the background while all of this is happening, plus the added strain of having the family’s struggled filmed. All of these events cumulate in a surprising twist ending…not really. I did not like the ending and honestly I’m not sure what it was suppose to imply or if there was supposed to be some sort of conclusion that I am missing.

Overall there was very little to truly keep my interest in this book. It too 100 pages for me to be able to pick it up and read for more than 15 minutes at a time and the best parts lasted for about 20 pages near the end. The build-up was slow and the climax was not satisfying. I found nothing about the book scary. For some reason I just couldn’t visualize the parts that were supposed to be chilling. The main character Merry is the most unreliable narrator (which I guess is the point) and the story is left, in my opinion, to the reader to decide what is true and what is simply Merry’s own false version of events. There is nothing really wrong with the book -the writing is good and all – but the story is slow and anti-climatic. Just when it starts to get interesting it is nearly the end.

hans-holbein

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