A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

source: purchased
title: A Head Full of Ghosts
author: Paul Tremblay
published: May 2016
genre: horror
pages: 285
first line: This must be so difficult for you, Meredith.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
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 normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop 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. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, 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 bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

My thoughts:
I purchased A Head Full of Ghosts because I wanted to dive into something scary. This was my first time reading Paul Tremblay and the premise looked good. Plus, this is what Stephen King said about this book: “A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare”. If that’s not a horror recommendation I don’t know what is.

The book centers around twenty-something Merry Barrett as she tells a writer named Rachel the story of what happened to her family when she was just eight years old. Rachel is going to write a book on the Barretts. When Merry was eight her fourteen year old sister Marjorie started exhibiting symptoms of demonic possession. The Barrett family was having financial difficulties at the time because the dad John Barrett lost his job. When Marjorie begins acting strange it puts a strain on the entire family. She was talking in bizarre and weird voices, cursing and having erratic outbursts.

After treatments from the doctor didn’t work, the family obtained help from the Catholic church. After observing Marjorie, Father Wanderly got permission to perform an exorcism. On top of all this, the Barrett’s got a tv documentary deal so there was a film crew living in their home for a few weeks filming the family daily. The Barrett’s agreed to the documentary which aired weekly and made them somewhat infamous because they needed the money. The exorcism is aired on tv.

I enjoyed how the author pulled me in here, Merry tells a terrifying story and I was on the edge of my seat while reading. She’s an endearing character and you want her to be okay but she is an unreliable narrator so you never truly know what happened.
I wondered where Paul Tremblay would go with the story because halfway through I started thinking this book could easily start to resemble a retelling of The Exorcist which is of my favorite horror novels. I was not disappointed. This one does throw nods to The Exorcist but manages to remain original.

The book culminates into a nice cringeworthy twist at the end that left me speechless. The twist is what seals the deal. I also enjoyed how the book plays with you a little as you read, you never really know what is truly going on. I wondered whether Marjorie was really possessed or mentally ill or maybe both. I feared for Merry and her interactions with her older sister in that state were scary but also sad. Merry idolized her older sister like most little sisters do. I also really enjoyed the whole reality tv twist to the story due to the documentary about the family being filmed.

A Head Full of Ghosts was fantastic horror and I recommend it to fans of the genre. This one is not for the faint of heart some of the scenes are shocking. Ugh, the basement scenes. I wanted to hide under the covers.


“In a way, my personal history not being my own, being literally and figuratively haunted by outside forces, is almost as horrible as what actually happened. Almost.”- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

I sneak into your room when you are asleep, Merry-monkey. I’ve been doing it for weeks now, since the end of summer. You’re so pretty when you’re asleep. Last night, I pinched your nose shut until you opened your little mouth and gasped.”- A Head Full of Ghosts



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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.



The Mist By Stephen King

source: personal copy
title: The Mist
author: Stephen King
genre: horror/science fiction horror
published: 1985
pages: 230
first line: This is what happened.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars

blurb:
In the wake of a summer storm, terror descends…David Drayton, his son Billy, and their neighbor Brent Norton join dozens of others and head to the local grocery store to replenish supplies following a freak storm. Once there, they become trapped by a strange mist that has enveloped the town. As the confinement takes its toll on their nerves, a religious zealot, Mrs. Carmody, begins to play on their fears to convince them that this is God’s vengeance for their sins. She insists a sacrifice must be made and two groups—those for and those against—are aligned. Clearly, staying in the store may prove fatal, and the Draytons, along with store employee Ollie Weeks, Amanda Dumfries, Irene Reppler, and Dan Miller, attempt to make their escape. But what’s out there may be worse than what they left behind.
This exhilarating novella explores the horror in both the enemy you know—and the one you can only imagine.

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my thoughts:
The Mist is one of my favorite King book to film adaptations, I liked both the film version and the tv mini-series which was cancelled after season 1.
One of the reasons I enjoy The Mist so much is that I like these kinds of stories based on a catastrophe that makes peoples true selves emerge. I also enjoy the post-apocalyptic stranded group of strangers setting where people need to work together to figure out a solution.

As the story begins there is a bad thunderstorm in Maine in the middle of July that brings with it a thick unnatural looking mist. David Drayton takes his son into town for supplies leaving his wife behind at their lakefront home. Once at the grocery store David realizes the mist is spreading and has enveloped the entire building. People begin to panic as they realize there is something unnatural and deadly waiting outside. David tries to keep his 8 year old son calm while also worrying about his wife back home. The group of people at the grocery store try to bond together to figure out what to do next. There is plenty of tension and danger as fear of the unknown begins to overtake people.

The setting of The Mist is great. As I said, I like these end of the world type stories. What would happen if you were stuck at a grocery store with a bunch of people with a deadly mist surrounding you? Most of the people know one another because they all live in town. I liked David and his son and I rooted for them. A few of the other characters are likeable while others not so much. King inserts a woman into the mix who begins to use religion as the cause of the mist and as a way to get others to act out in a dangerous way. This woman begins to get a following since some people begin to lose their minds over the situation. A few of the scenes are pretty gruesome in detail once the reader gets to see what is lurking in the mist.

That being said, while I enjoyed reading this novella, at times I found myself almost just going through the motions since I knew what was happening next. The film version stays pretty true to the novella, except for the ending. The ending is completely different in the book. I think I prefer the novella’s ending over the film.

King sets the mood perfectly here. He gives us a set of characters that pull us into the story and there is mystery and terror surrounding the origins of the mist making this novella the perfect dose of horror at 230 pages without too much commitment. All in all, I enjoyed reading The Mist and recommend it if you enjoy post-apocalyptic science fiction stories.


“There are things of such darkness and horror-just, I suppose, as there are things of such great beauty-that they will not fit through the puny human doors of perception.” p.226, The Mist by Stephen King

“You know what talent is? The curse of expectation.”- p.157, the Mist by Stephen King


I read The Mist as part of R.I.P. XV.




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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Mist by Stephen King. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo in this post is mine and not to be removed from here.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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source: purchased
title: Doctor Sleep
author:Stephen King
pages: 531
published: 2013
genre: paranormal horror
first line: On the second day of December in a new year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of  Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground. 
rated:  5 stars
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blurb:
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

my thoughts:
Hello all, I am still here and after taking a few weeks off blog-land I figured I’d come back with my thoughts on Doctor Sleep which is the sequel to The Shining. I first read The Shining over a decade ago, when I was finally brave enough to. So when Doctor Sleep was published in 2013, I re-read The Shining in order to refresh my memory before picking up this sequel. Meanwhile, here I am finally reading the sequel six years later. Did The Shining need a follow up? Not really because it had an ending. But I was still curious to see where King would take the story. In an interview I heard him say that Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shining novel, not a sequel to the film since the two are different in many ways and he didn’t like the film version.

Mild spoilers ahead….

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The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

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source: free copy via Amazon Prime membership
title: The Exorcist
author: William Peter Blatty
genre: classic horror/paranormal horror
published: 1971
pages: 380
first line: The blaze of the sun wrung pops of sweat from the old man’s brow, yet he cupped his hands around the glass of hot sweet tea as if to warm them.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars for horror with heart
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blurb:
Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist, one of the most controversial novels ever written, went on to become a literary phenomenon: It spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, seventeen consecutively at number one. Inspired by a true story of a child’s demonic possession in the 1940s, William Peter Blatty created an iconic novel that focuses on Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. A small group of overwhelmed yet determined individuals must rescue Regan from her unspeakable fate, and the drama that ensues is gripping and unfailingly terrifying.

my thoughts:

I have wanted to read The Exorcist for a while and I finally got the nerve to. I also wanted to make sure I read it fast which I did, so I wasn’t dwelling on it too much. I finished it in less than a week. What I found on reading this one is that it was terrifying yes, but also full of almost poetic writing with a well-developed plot and with characters that you root for. It is essentially a story about good vs. evil. The book is pretty much the same as the film but it has more heart.

I tend to become easily immersed in the books that I read so this was a scary experience for me but ironically The Exorcist  has become a new favorite horror novel. It is easily the scariest book I have ever read. I have been jumpy all week and scared of my own shadow. I don’t know when I will be able to go down to the basement again when I am home alone. Or how I will even agree to being left home alone now but I digress.
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