A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS Play­ing Merry hell

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUt NOW! 400 pages | Pa­per­back/ebook

Au­thor Paul trem­blay Pub­lisher ti­tan books

Take one ado­les­cent girl, add some blas­phemy and sex­ual de­viance, and top it all off with lash­ings of pea soup. The tropes of de­monic pos­ses­sion sto­ries are so well-worn now you’d think no one could ever make them scary again. But Paul Trem­blay might just have man­aged it.

His novel em­braces the clichés, us­ing their very fa­mil­iar­ity to, para­dox­i­cally, man­u­fac­ture an at­mos­phere of dread and un­cer­tainty. Here, pop cul­ture is just an­other force for evil, and noth­ing is quite what it seems.

Fif­teen years ago, Merry’s older sis­ter was taken ill – mood changes, green vomit, the works. While the girls’ mother sus­pected schizophre­nia, their fa­ther called a pri­est. And the pri­est called a TV net­work. Be­fore they knew it, the fam­ily were at the cen­tre of a con­tro­ver­sial TV show. Now, retelling her story to a bi­og­ra­pher, Merry must bat­tle to sep­a­rate her child­hood mem­o­ries from what she’s seen on TV, in an at­tempt to find out what re­ally hap­pened to her sis­ter.

Trem­blay piles on the lay­ers of am­bi­gu­ity to craft a story that’s a joy to un­pick. And its fi­nal sting is guar­an­teed to keep you up at night. Sarah Dobbs

This book is ded­i­cated to au­thor Shirley Jack­son. Our Book Club on p40 may give some clues as to why…

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