Cephalopod Coffee House

Hey! I'm back with the Coffee House this month. The purpose of this blog hop is to post about the best book you've read in the past month. You can visit the other participants, starting with our host The Armchair Squid.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/519ypKM1yQL.jpgThis month's selection is A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.

The Barretts are a normal family featuring Mom and Dad, and two daughters: Marjorie, aged fourteen, and eight-year-old Meredith (Merry). The father has recently lost his job, and Marjorie begins violently acting out, and claims that her head is full of ghosts. After initial treatment for mental illness fails to show improvement, the father begins to suspect that Marjorie's illness is not physical or psychological, but rather spiritual. In an attempt to help Marjorie and the family finances, a TV crew is invited into the home to film a reality show called The Possession. As the fame from the show leaks into their lives, the Barrett family begins to fall apart. The story unfolds in flashback, related by Merry, now an adult attempting to reconcile her childhood memories with her more mature adult understanding of mental illness, and the breakdown of her family, but the question remains: is Marjorie suffering from the early stages of schizophrenia, or is she possessed by a demon?

Merry tells her story based on her own hazy memories, and repeat viewings of The Possession. For a child, a beloved older sibling who suddenly becomes withdrawn, paranoid, and begins complaining of ghosts in her head must be frightening and confusing. The only people she can trust to provide reassuring answers are her parents; but when her parents are themselves grasping at straws, it's difficult for Merry to parse out fact from fiction, even 15 years later.

A Head Full of Ghosts is creepy and unnerving on many levels. Mental illness, demonic possession, family dysfunction - it's all there. Merry is an unreliable narrator, and she admits as much. The reader is left wondering how much of her recollection is fact, fiction or wishful thinking. The writing sets a good pace, never bogging down, and  I read it in two days, staying up until 2 am to finish it, then spent another hour or so processing it before I could even think of sleeping. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I certainly enjoyed this chai.

Thanks for reading. Now's the time for you to saunter off to visit the other Coffee House participants:

Comments

  1. Wow! This is not usually my sort of thing but it sounds gripping. I like the idea of a writer embracing the idea of an unreliable narrator.

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  2. This sounds like an interesting story. It sounds like the narrator breaks the 4th wall which, considering the already scary nature of the story, probably adds more intensity. Cool review.

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  3. That book sounds weirdly interesting.

    Love,
    Janie

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  4. Sounds interesting. I love anything spooky and unreliable narrators can be fun to try to figure out.

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  5. Sounds like a creepy tale. I'm more a fan of the light-hearted, but this might be good October read. Thanks for sharing!
    V :)

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