A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay


This is not a review. Paul Tremblay’s A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS (William Morrow, 2015) is likely the best “if Shirley Jackson wrote a postmodern version of The Exorcist” novel you’ll ever read. There are so many levels of excellence in the book that it’s difficult to summarize it in any satisfactory way. Which is really how it should be. One of the aspects that most appealed to me is the novel’s insistence on keeping one from knowing what it is. What seems like a classic tale of exorcism suddenly turns on its head, and leaves one wondering if there is something more going on. Even those moments that, surely, could only be the work of a devil, get turned around in a postmodern deconstruction of what we come to expect from an exorcism story, and, in a broader sense, how all fiction is an amalgamation of what went before, reconstituted and recontextualized. His character work is strong, outlining the descent of his characters’ family from average normalcy into confusion and chaos, yet maintaining a through-line that follows them into their final moments, all spearheaded by a narrator relating her experiences when she was a charming eight year old. Anyone who knows Tremblay’s work knows this sort of writing is his specialty, and as ever it continues to impress. This one is well worth your time picking up.