A Head Full of Ghosts

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A Head Full of Ghosts
A Head Full of Ghosts cover.jpg
AuthorPaul G. Tremblay
Cover artistAmanda Kain
Set inBeverly, Massachusetts[1]
Published2015 (HarperCollins)
AwardsBram Stoker Award for Novel[3]

A Head Full of Ghosts is a horror novel by American writer Paul G. Tremblay. The plot involves an American family under strain when their fourteen-year-old daughter, Marjorie Barrett, exhibits signs of mental illness.[4] The story is told from the point of view of Marjorie's eight-year-old sister, Merry. Themes include elements of Catholic exorcism and reality television exploitation.

The novel was published on June 2, 2015 by William Morrow[2] and won the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award for Novel in 2015.[3][5] Focus Features has acquired the rights to develop a movie adaptation.[6]


The book is told from the perspective of Merry, primarily from when she was an active eight-year-old girl, but is also occasionally told from an adult Merry, which serves as a framing mechanism for the story. Her home life is strained as her father is unemployed, leaving her mother to serve as the home's sole breadwinner while their savings account is slowly drained of resources. To make matters worse, Merry's sister Marjorie has been acting in an increasingly bizarre fashion. This particularly comes to Merry's attention after her sister begins telling her strange and macabre stories instead of innocent ones based on characters from Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Unbeknownst to Merry, Marjorie has been seeing a therapist, something she only learns after Marjorie experiences a particularly bad episode. Things continue to go downhill until Merry's father, who had recently become a born again Catholic, decides that Marjorie is possessed by a demon and enlists the help of his church's preacher, who believes an exorcism is necessary. Together, the two men manage to make the family the focus of a reality TV show The Possession, which will focus on Marjorie for its series debut.

The show only manages to tear the family further apart and during this time Marjorie tells Merry that she has been faking her signs of demonic possession and that while she is afflicted, it is due to a mental illness. She chose to do this because the family was in danger of losing their home and the show's producers were paying their family a large enough amount of money for them to survive. Marjorie enlists Merry's help with faking further proof of the demonic, although Merry is initially reluctant and at times questions whether or not her sister is actually possessed.