A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s hard to believe this is the first horror novel I’ve read in a long, long time. Mostly I liked it, but it also reminded me why it’s been so long since I’ve read a horror novel, and why I quit the Horror Writers Association.
Imagine The Exorcist as a reality TV show with running commentary about the evils of a patriarchal society. That’s pretty much A Head Full of Ghosts. The story is told by a grown woman who was an eight-year-old girl when her sister may or may not have become mentally ill or possessed by a demon. The father — who can’t provide for his family after the factory he worked at closed — can’t handle the loss of his power and may also be going crazy, but before he goes he finds the Catholic God and arranges for the Church and his family to do a reality television show called The Possession showing how they deal with the demon-infested 14-year-old girl.
There was too much look-how-much-I-know-about-the-horror-genre commentary thinly disguised as the girl’s research for her Fangoria blog. Plus the social commentary was annoying and just reminded me way too much of the HWA message board flame wars.
And it was pretty easy to see where the story was going to end up.
Since I listened to this in audio I can’t say if it was written in such an annoying way or if it was the woman doing the narration, but I wanted to throttle her. Her male voices were deliberately dumb and her teen girl voices were over-the-top with slang and annoying inflection.
If you like the recent spate of predictable PG-13 demon movies you’ll like this book. If you don’t laugh at Friedkin’s The Exorcist, you’ll likely be entertained enough while reading, but won’t remember much about this one a few hours after finishing it.
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