Towards the end of 2015, I discovered the various forms of reading challenges on the Internet from social media sites such as GoodReads to reader’s advisory websites such as NoveList and Book Riot. For 2016, I along with other library colleagues decided to hold the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. The purpose of the reading challenge is simple, select a book based off one of the category selection and continue reading until all the categories are occupied by a book.
Fortunately, thanks to Book Riot, there is a clause at the bottom of the challenge saying if the reader finds a book that fits one or more categories listed, it can be counted, or simply you can double dip and sometimes even quadruple dip if you are fortunate enough to find the best selection.
As I perused the list, the first category is Read a Horror Book. Not having read much horror, I did not have a clue where to start looking but popular authors like the famous Stephen King and Shirley Jackson caught my attention. However, I visited a site by a library worker (who goes by the nom de plume Calliope Woods) and determined to read their suggestive horror selection, A Headful of Ghosts. Thus, I would like to feature Calliope Woods’s review on this selection.
If you are interested in reading this piece, you can follow this link to reserve it or visit the author’s website for more information.
Enjoy and Happy Reading! — Micah, Shawnee Branch
A Head Full of Ghosts by Calliope Woods, post on 9/24/2015
Everyone can agree that Merry’s sister Marjorie was very disturbed, but was she suffering from schizophrenia, possessed by demons, faking for the eventual attention that her family received, or some mixture of all three?
A Head Full of Ghosts is a story told fifteen years after the events occured, by the younger sister of the girl who was deemed possessed by a priest, the man who subsequently invited a film crew into their home and lives.
The distance from the action is exacerbated by Merry’s online blogger persona, analyzing the reality show that starred her family purely as a work of fiction.
It’s not surprising that this book is most commonly compared to House of Leaves, which uses a simlar technique of an academic analysis of a movie to reveal what most consider the main story of the convuluted book. While I do enjoy the mixed-media, twisty-turny approach of House of Leaves, there’s something to be said about the simplicity of Tremblay’s novel when you compare the two.
Even though the novel is written through two frames, Merry telling her (sister’s) story to a bestselling novelist intending to write a book from Merry’s perspective, and the literary analysis of Merry’s hyperactive online alter-ego, we’re really only getting the one (admittedly dissociative) narration from Merry.
The framing of the story is what really attracted me to this book. Another book about the possession of a teenage girl by demons? Meh. A book about the writing of a book about the younger sister’s perspective on the reality show that covered her sister’s supposed possession? Sign me up.
This was a fast read; I finished it in a day, but it was an extremely satisfying page turner of a novel. I found it on a list of books that supposedly scared Stephen King, and though I can’t say this book really scared me, I’m not going to say I’m braver than the master of horror– I’m assuming he has an addiction to horror that leaves him as dead inside as I am and simply gave this list as books that gave him a good fix, which A Head Full of Ghosts certainly is.