Hardcover, Ebook, audio available! Trade paperback coming May 2016.
A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends domestic drama and psychological suspense with a touch of modern horror, reminicent of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House
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 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 Barrett’s 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 they soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality TV 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 Merry 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.
“A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay: Scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare.”–Stephen King
“Crackling with dark energy and postmodern wit, Paul Tremblay’s superb A Head Full of Ghosts evokes the very best in the tradition—from Shirley Jackson to Mark Z. Danielewski and Marisha Pessl—while also feeling fresh and utterly new. Deeply funny and intensely terrifying, it’s a sensory rollercoaster and not to be missed.”–Megan Abbott, author of The Fever and Dare Me.
“I loved this book, and could not put it down until the last page. A genuinely scary, post-modern homage to classic horror that invokes Stanley Kubrik and Shirley Jackson in equal measure but also manages to innovate on nearly every page. A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS is both unlike any horror novel you’ve read, and hauntingly, frighteningly familiar.”–Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead and Come Closer
“Paul Tremblay plays fast and loose with the conventions of supernatural and psychological storytellling in this chilling ghost story for the 21st century. A Head Full of Ghosts is the literary lovechild of Shirley Jackson and William Peter Blatty, a novel that’s as disturbing as the worst nightmare you ever had as a kid, and as impossible to forget.”–Elizabeth Hand, author of Generation Loss and Available Dark
“Dark, brilliant, and impossible to predict, Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts is more than a perfect horror story. It’s a smart and savage look at American culture in all its madness, and the price girls are forced to pay by a society obsessed with spectacle and sin.” —Cara Hoffman author of So Much Pretty and Be Safe I Love You
“A Head Full of Ghosts doesn’t end just because you close the book. Some horror, it bleeds through the pages, gets onto your hands, stays with you. You’ll be thinking about this one long after you’ve read it.”–Stephen Graham Jones, author of Demon Theory.
“A Head Full of Ghosts is such a wonderfully wild novel. Disturbing and destabilizing, haunting and heartbreaking. This is a horror story that also plays with the history of horror tales in a way that’s simply marvelous. Paul Tremblay is an excellent writer and this book is such a fun ride.”–Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
“Paul Tremblay is an astonishingly talented writer, but even better, he’s twisted, and fun. A Head Full of Ghosts is mind-bending – scary, sad, sweet, funny, sick. The blog entries that deconstruct the Barrett family’s breakdown on a doomed reality show is a wild performance on a level with a remix of ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ taking us through the delicious pop history of possession, then landing an unexpected left at the end. Terrifying, hilarious, smart, and satisfying. Recommended for lovers of Shirley Jackson, Roald Dahl, Richard Matheson, The Exorcist, and of course all found-footage films.”—Stewart O’Nan, author of The Speed Queen, The Night Country, and A Prayer for the Dying
“Paul Tremblay’s terrific A Head Full of Ghosts generates a haze of an altogether more serious kind: the pleasurable fog of calculated, perfectly balanced ambiguity.”–Terrance Rafferty, New York Times Book Review)
“…progressively gripping and suspenseful — (Tremblay’s) ultimate, bloodcurdling revelation is as sickeningly satisfying as it is masterful.”–Jason Heller, NPR Books
“[B]rilliantly creepy.” (Library Journal)
“The novel is stylishly written and well-conceived.” (Booklist)
“Gripping and truly scary, this book feels of the moment in a way few thrillers do.” (B&N Reads)
“Tremblay paints a believable portrait of a family in extremis emotionally as it attempts to cope with the unthinkable, but at the same time he slyly suggests that in a culture where the wall between reality and acting has eroded, even the make believe might seem credible. Whether psychological or supernatural, this is a work of deviously subtle horror.” Publisher’s Weekly
“The beauty of A Head Full of Ghosts is that there are a number of possible interpretations of the events and that the conclusions drawn by one reader may be very different to those drawn by another.… One thing is certain, though, A Head Full of Ghosts is a masterfully written book that will certainly appeal to horror fans, and which deserves to find a wider audience among lovers of thought-provoking fiction across the entire literary spectrum.”–Richard Cosgrove (This Is Horror)
“As the adult Merry’s memories clash with the televised version of events leading up to the climactic final episode of The Possession—it’s not spoiling too much to say that everything that could go wrong does—readers will begin to question if anyone in the house is truly sane.Tremblay expertly ratchets up the suspense until the tension is almost at its breaking point.”–Kirkus
25 responses to “A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS”
When I read the title of the book, I actualy had the song from Bad Religion playing in my head and I was surprised when I saw the video at the end. Was it an inspiration ?
It definitely was. I had the idea for the novel right around the same time I was listening to TRUE NORTH on heavy rotation. I even got permission from BR to quote the tune’s lyrics in the epigraph of the novel!
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Hi, I’ve just started “Head Full of Ghosts” and am compelled to comment that the accused witches in Salem were not burned (they did that in Europe.) Our accused witches were hanged, died in prison, or, in one case, pressed to death. I am assuming that the error is from Karen the blogger, rather than the author. 🙂
I’ll never tell.
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Hi ! Is your book available in french too ? Thank you !
Not as of yet, unfortunately.
I was brought GHOSTS by my husband last week and loved it immensely. Is there a reason for the uneven pages?
Just a publisher’s style thing. It’s called “Deckle edged.”
Thanks for the read and the kind words, Kat!
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I just read “Head Full of Ghosts” and it was great until I got to the end and there was no end. I won’t read another one of your books. I feel duped!
Ha! In the of chance that this is a serious comment:
Of course there’s an ending. Maybe you just didn’t get it. I’m not going to explain it either. But only to point out that Merry seeing her breath in the coffee shop might be important (maybe it points to some supernatural explanation of the events after all) or it might not be (maybe the heat is just on the fritz and her seeing her breath is not supernatural but a metaphor for how she’s been affected by everything she’s been through).
I guess a semi-explanation after all.
I’ve just had the great pleasure of translating this title to be published in Brazil. What a great story! Merry really surprised me; she’s extremely complex due to her memories – real or not -, and that’s what makes her so intriguing. It was an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end and such a page turner! Thank you for the experience and congratulations!
Hi, Annie. Thank you so much for the kind words and your translation work! I’m so excited!
Thrilled with A Head Full of Ghosts; I look forward to reading more of your work.
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I’ve just finished reading your book and…. this is the best book that I ever read! I’m Italian, so I’ve read the Italian version “Nel buio della mente”. I say that because I’m a really fanatic of the modern horror (and I was surprised to realize that I know every films and book you’ve mentioned). I’m also a fanatic reader and I love writing too. After reading your fantastic book, I’ve decided to improve myself and to start writing a horror story, based on my fantasy and experiences. So thanks to gave me an input to follow my big dream. Some advice?
About your story, I’m not sure to get the end. Or maybe I get it and the book finishes with an understood question that gives me doubts (?) (Maybe this is always been your objective)
But sincerely, I appreciate the horror story with a bad/unknown ending. They seem more true and realistic.
I will buy and I’ll read other of your books.
Congratulations again, Mr. Paul, aka Mynewbestauthor. 🙂
Thank you very much, Alessia. I appreciate the kind words, and best of luck with starting writing!
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Have read it twice and am longing for the film. Any news? Last I heard Osgood Perkins was directing and the Downey’s were producing. Will you have anything to do with the script?
no news just yet. Maybe soon. Perkins wrote the screenplay and I’ve heard it’s quite good!
Mr. Tremblay, I feel compelled to tell you you’re my new favorite writer. I’ve read your 3 “big” novels + Growing Things & Other Stories one after another one, and I only wish more people knew about your stuff. Unfortunately, your books haven’t been translated to either Russian or Ukrainian (I’m from Ukraine, where we speak both), so I can’t really recommend you to most of my friends (who don’t read English). Sad! (As a translator myself, I’d LOVE to translate A Head Full of Ghosts, but it’s really not up to me.)
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. and I wish there was a translation too. No publisher has made an offer unfortunately.