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Publisher's Summary

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 suburban New England family, are torn apart when 14-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to halt 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 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 best-selling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories begin to surface, and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed.

©2015 Paul Tremblay (P)2016 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

" A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I'm pretty hard to scare." (Stephen King, best-selling author)
"Terrific.... Generates a haze of an altogether more serious kind: the pleasurable fog of calculated, perfectly balanced ambiguity." ( The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about A Head Full of Ghosts

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  • JD
  • 13-02-2018

Meh

I am struggling to find anything that has come close to Andrew Pypers earlier books. I have no idea what this one was trying to achieve, but by the midway point I was just listening to finish it. It was intriguing, but not the least but scary.

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great story

loved the story but the ending left me wondering and just didn't give me quite enough...

1 person found this helpful

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A very thoughtful book

An interesting read, slow at parts but always interesting. Can’t decide if it’s more ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘We Have To Talk About Kevin’ but it was engaging. Narrator was excellent too.

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would give 3.5/5

I felt the story took a long time to get going. Nearly stopped listening at one point..all the action was towards the end of the book. Nevertheless it had creepy moments that had you questioning what was going on.

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Unexpected twists and turns..

I enjoyed this story and the narrator was good, except when she did a male voice...
Unexpected ending...

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A story that really creeps up on you

Inevitable and inescapable, the intimate and classic creepy tragedy of a family losing its cohesion. Some great meta moments that explore the classic horror and gothic horror genre while still holding the reader in the story. Well written characters - fallible adults , powerless children, the feeling of childhood, exploitation and the catholic church overstepping it’s abilities all authentically described and evoked.
A great read that will haunt you!

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Very satisfying. Narrator was Brilliant 😊

Very intriguing family story and dynamic with the strange off set blog narrator and character was a bit over the too for me. But I did enjoy her insights. it was well written and I loved the narrator and all her 'voices'. The ending was excellent.

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enthralling

This book engaged me from the start and kept me going back to it at every opportunity. The plot weaves and ducks al over the place and is told through the voice of Mary ... A cracking good read that leads us through the lives of a family , tormented and struggling to understand the complete breakdown of their way of life ..

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Cringe

I really want to know how much Stephen King was paid to recommend this book.

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oh wow

Did make me thing towards the end. And I was also manipulated as much as the other characters.

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  • Justin Z.
  • 17-04-2022

Spooky

I’m not much of a horror buff, so I went for this off a suggestion on Goodreads. It’s an atmospheric and voyeuristic descent into the protagonist family’s demons and paranoias, well executed.

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  • Kaggy
  • 30-03-2018

Truly mad and deeply disturbing

This is a brilliant and genuinely disturbing piece of horror fiction skilfully intertwining themes of superstition, religion, mental illness, modern day rationality and the vulnerability of children in an economically beleaguered family.

In the story’s construction the writer is unashamedly influenced by Shirley Jackson and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, with the young heroine, Merry, sharing a similar name to the earlier heroine (Merricat). Like that book this one has a strange out of kilter atmosphere created out the mind of a very wise child. This follows Merry who is 8 years old and in the thrall of her older sister who at 14 years of age is displaying disturbing signs of mental illness. The early scenes where Merry is being cruelly baited by the sister are truly chilling but her trust in her big sister is relentless despite her growing bewilderment and fear. This is a story of a family torn apart by madness and economic misfortune but there is always the question of what is really going on and whose is the head that is full of ghosts.

For those familiar with the Exorcist, the ghastliness of the scenes depicting the apparent possession will hold no surprises but this goes far beyond a straightforward story of good versus evil. There are some bizarre events, including the portrayal of the family’s plight on reality television, but really this is no more crazy than the world we are currently experiencing. Joy Osmanski provides a seamless performance giving a credible voice to Merry as a child and a grown woman. Like Merry you will want to make sense of this story but no matter how thoroughly you analyse this, you will always be left with a head full of unfathomable mystery.

Top marks to this author. He is clearly a man who has tremendous talent and something fresh, new and intelligent to add to this genre.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Tim P.
  • 10-09-2018

A very clever 'haunting'. Pls read whole review...

I'd been recommended Paul Tremblay as an author as I'm a fan of horror and when this and another of his books were in my wish list as well as an audible credit BOGOF deal I jumped in! I start off this review with a couple of negatives, but purely personal views and shouldn't prejudice against a great 'read' so pls read all my (again, personal) thoughts.

To get the first monkey off my back, I have to say I wasn't a fan of the narrator when she did 'male' voices. As limited as they were they came across as comical and took the edge of some moments unfortunately. That said, Joy Osmanski did an excellent job of the female characters, even the different voices for the same people i.e. through the ages.

The second monkey was that although I really enjoyed this book, i didn't find it scary. I enjoy reading and watching horror, but although they never really give me the frights they hold my suspense, while perhaps feel they lose something for me personally in the audio format. This held me, but if you are similar to me you aren't in for a horrific time... unfortunately.

But this was still a great book as you can see from my score. So classing this as a psychological thriller, it holds it's own as we care about characters, what they're going through and how they themselves feel at any given moment. If flits between a 'now and then' storyline but they aren't that far apart (less than 20 years) so we have contemporary view to the situation which makes a nice change for this 'Exorcist' type setting rather than the old, Victorian gothic or mental wards and horrendous medical practices of yesteryear i.e. digital technology, mobile phones, clued up teenagers and a progressive view of mental health.

For fans of the horror genre part of the premise may seem overdone, possessed young girl needs an exorcism, but the great thing is the author Paul Tremblay more than eludes to this in the book, almost debunking his own storyline as we go as we follow the perspective of the possessed younger sister as a child and adult. But it never detracts from what he trying to convey.

It is a very clever book, well researched and written and never feels like a carbon copy of anything you may have read or watched before. Tremblay's blogging character who reviews the TV show the possession is based on, ironically The Possession, has a great knowledge of films, both horror and filming techniques (which as a media student I appreciated but it didn't go into boring detail) and the classic stories to refer to. Clever, not just in terms of factual detail but how the possessed girl thinks, what she knows, what she makes you think & feel as well as twists along the way.

I don't want to give much away, but thoroughly enjoyed it and have The Devils Disappearance lined up in my queue for a soon to be listened to experience. Glad I gave Tremblay a go - thanks audible!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Marjorie Barreto-Neto
  • 28-12-2018

Definitely different

Strange book and stranger ending. But it’s nice to not be able to guess the ending. My wife didn’t think the book was scary at all or that interesting but wanted to see where it was going, then didn’t like the ending.
It’s not just another exorcism book and either a quasi-brilliant move on the authors part or a huge mistake writing it from that POV interjected with mental illness. Although I can’t see how anyone could not include mental illness with possession affecting persons close to the “possessed,” I don’t actually believe that one can’t exist without the other. I, like Mary, am still trying to figure the whole thing out.
One of the shortest reviews I’ve written though I think I’ve given it enough. This one I have to think about before I can do it justice.
One thing is you’ll either really like it, or not, understand what and why, or not, ponder it for awhile, or not. At least you might understand this review being informative, or not.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ms T
  • 28-02-2018

A solid ghost story

A good, old-fashioned spooky story which leaves you wondering what to believe and what will happen next after every chapter. Stephen King states this book ‘scared the living hell’ out of him: I wouldn’t go that far but it’s a solid story with an ending I wasn’t expecting.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jus Shemare
  • 17-12-2016

Haunting

Possible one of the best audio books I've listened to this year. The best stories don't just end, this one I will be thinking about for a while.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Reece
  • 24-05-2021

Ignore the stephen King quote.... What a let down

Ruined by the winy American narration
One to read and not listen
Wish I knew how to return this purchase

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jo
  • 16-08-2018

Disappointed

Nearly gave up on this quite quickly as found the narrator too fast and irritating, however I kept going due to the excellent reviews.
I think they listened to a different book!
It wasn’t scary and I just didn’t get it!! Supernatural or mental illness...who knows!
Don’t bother!

2 people found this helpful

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  • EllenD
  • 19-05-2017

Chilling!!

I'm not sure what I expected at all but this book was so good! A story of hauntings and exorcism or mental illness....you decide.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dalelh1991
  • 21-12-2021

Narrator is beyond irritating!!

The story itself I OK, not brilliant. The narrator made this a chore to listen to!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Survivor
  • 19-11-2021

Not for me, a bit confusing.

I found this a bit confusing, I'm sure others will enjoy it more than me. I struggled with the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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