Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts was the horror representative for this year's World Fantasy Awards.  Horror stories aren't my favorite, but this one is worthwhile as a very accurate and acerbic commentary on current American culture.

The main character is Merry, now 23 years of age, telling the story of the horror her family went through when she was eight years old.  The story centers around the mental illness or "possession" of her older sister.  The family is struggling--dad's been out of work for some time and is going through a religious revival, Mom is depressed.  The sister starts acting out in various horrific ways.  The family (mostly Dad) decides to allow itself to be the subject of a reality TV series in order to raise money for the afflicted daughter's care.

Of course part of the fun is the reveal, so I won't say much more.  But the novel is quite self-aware--the protagonist is writing a horror blog that includes a detailed dissection of the series, under an assumed identity.  Reality TV and religious conservatism come in for particularly harsh criticism, and linkage.

I can recommend it as a novel that uses shock effectively and makes good points.  3 stars from me.

This is also the last World Fantasy Award novel nominee for 2015.  The Chimes by Anna Smail won it, but my personal pick was Naomi Novik's Uprooted

No comments:

Post a Comment