Lately I’ve been craving horror and suspense novels as if they were going out of style. Of course, nowadays it seems that everything horror related is banal and splattered with cliches. It’s safe to say that finding a good horror novel (or movie, I might add) is as hard as finding a needle in a haystack. That’s where Paul Tremblay steps in with his novel A Head Full of Ghosts.
I’m all about the paranormal and weird shit that goes bump in the night. It’s really thanks to my overactive imagination, which lets me see creatures peeking out of closets and hiding behind corners as if they were as real as you and me. Unfortunately, my imagination isn’t always a positive attribute, especially coupled with my overanalyzing personality, but it does make for easier enjoyment from even crappy horror novels and movies. The chance of being scared is more likely for those who just believe in everything (also known as gullible). Thankfully, my imagination doesn’t prevent me from realizing when I’ve stumbled upon a good horror and suspense novel that will keep one turning pages until its finished. Tremblay’s was definitely that kind of read.
I was skeptical that I would get bombarded with the typical paranormal shit that is a part of every exorcist tale, and I was definitely right. However, Tremblay takes all those details and makes them new. It wasn’t the usual “girl is possessed, so some priest comes and does some weird shit to her” read that I was expecting. Instead, from the perspective of a child, Tremblay lets the reader live through the horrors (heh) that engulf a family as they deal with child meltdowns and economic troubles. We are Merry, outside in New England November, kicking a soccer ball. And if a writer can make me think I am living with the characters, than that’s some good storytelling.
Unfortunately, with these great chunks of texts that made me stay up at night turning pages came some weird, out of nowhere blog-style writing that I wasn’t thrilled about. Although they aren’t a huge part of the reading, they would take you out of the bubble the rest of the story kept you in, and I found it hard to stay connected with what was happening. Maybe it just isn’t my cup of tea, but if I wanted to read blog-style writing (which wasn’t really that great, to be honest), I would go to my old Xanga page or LiveJournal posts I did when I was thirteen.
With that said, I do believe this is a novel that should be read by those looking for some new take on paranormal and/or exorcist stories. Even with its bit of faults, the story could sweep you back into the fold quickly. Then, you can continue to cringe at the images Tremblay made for you, while also realizing how crazy people can really get.
And the ending? You’ll have to let me know what you think!