Supernatural Magazine

A Head Full of Ghosts - Paul Tremblay

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A Head Full of Ghosts - Paul Tremblay

HORROR IN BOTH LITERATURE AND FILM has seen its fair share of the demon possessed - any fan of the genre will be familiar with Regan from The Exorcist; Emily Rose from Exorcism of Emily Rose, or the innocent face of Nell, in The Last Exorcism. The horror market has followed this theme for many years, even pre-dating William Peter Blattey’s landmark story of possession released back in 1971.

I wondered - being a huge fan of these books and films myself - if there was anything original left to be said on the theme. After reading author Paul Tremblay’s latest release, A Head Full of Ghosts, the answer is a resounding yes.

This story centres on a regular family - the Barrett’s - as they attempt to survive under the financial and familial pressures of modern living, alongside trying to cope with a troubled daughter who is either mentally ill - or demonically possessed. The father, unemployed and under extreme stress, turns to his faith for salvation, hoping the church will provide him with answers. His wife, sceptical about religion and the idea of possession, turns to modern psychiatry to seek resolution. Interestingly, the story itself is told from the point of view of the youngest family member - Meredith. Through her eyes we watch the descent into mental hell of her older sibling, as well as her turmoil whilst she is forced to watch the fractured relationship of her parents as it splinters further into disarray.

Tremblay manages to recount the story from the point of view of a child with striking authenticity. The reader easily slips into the child’s shoes as she narrates the story of her family’s nightmare, all the while navigating a very adult story. This stark contrast creates something magic within the pages - a bringing to life of childhood fears, the realisation that sooner or later we all have to find out if there is a creature under the bed.

What is the creature in this fantastically written story? The central theme in A Head Full of Ghosts tries to explore this question without reaching a full conclusion. Is the sulking and bewildered teenager experiencing a psychotic break, or is she indeed finding herself host to a supernatural force? The story is an age-old one, yet one that Tremblay has managed to tell in a fresh, original and unique way.

Possession and exorcism are topics that are not easy to talk about. They speak to our innate, personal fears. When writing my novel The Banishing, (which also explores this theme) I understood that the telling of such a story takes the writer to a dark, uneasy place in their mind. Tremblay has managed to translate this darkness onto the page, and the reader is left with an uncomfortable feeling. By the end of this novel, the reader is marked, somehow. Moved not only by the characters we are made to care about, but also frightened by the possibility that perhaps the monster under our bed is real, after all.

If you are a fan of intelligent, dark horror, then you will enjoy this. I recommend it highly.

TITLE: A Head Full of Ghosts AUTHOR: Paul Tremblay PUBLISHER: William Morrow & Company. PRICE: £12:99.

Fiona Dodwell

Fiona Dodwell

Fiona lives in Torbay, Devon, with her husband. She has been passionate about the paranormal since she was a child, and several paranormal experiences of her own have led her to personal study of this fascinating subject. Fiona has had three horror novels published, and has been studying the paranormal under Dr Ciaran o’Keeffe.