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Horror

A Head Full of Ghosts – a book review in 200 words

A Head Full of Ghosts

by Paul Tremblay

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This book! So smart, so clever, so unnerving.

Merry’s older sister, Marjorie, has begun to act strangely. Marjorie watches 8-year-old Merry while she sleeps, tells her increasingly disturbing secrets and threatens to cut out her tongue if she tattles. Meanwhile, Merry’s mother shuttles Marjorie to a string of doctors while her father drags in a priest.

After a denouement of serious weirdness, the parents decide to sign up for a reality television show (The Possession) – this decision, of course, goes terribly awry.

I found this book to be incredibly clever. We only know what a protected youngest child would know; the parents try to keep things as normal as possible when, in reality, the entire family is skidding off the tracks. Then, when we think we know exactly what happened, we are treated to the viewpoint of the grown-up Merry and a blogger who works very hard to discredit everything shown in The Possession. We are constantly, and delightedly, kept a little off balance.

I mean, what could be more frightening than a trusted family member turning against you, the exploitation of reality television and a demon-possessed teenager? This book definitely deserved it’s 2015 Bram Stoker award.

Read it.

Rating: 92/100

Buy it at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The CallThe Call by Peadar Ó Guilín

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually listened to the audiobook, which I’m sure has colored my feelings about this story a bit. The narrator on the audiobook does not do a very good job of differentiating between the POV characters so I feel like I was semi-lost for most of the first half of the book. I may actually go back and read this again in paper format so I get the complete story arc. That being said, the last half of the book is truly fantastic. Once there are fewer characters to keep track of, the story really gets moving, and I gasped aloud a couple of times at important plot points.

It’s a pretty simple story, really – the Sidhe (pronounced “shee”), or fairies, have decided that they need to take revenge upon the humans who took away their rights to reside in Ireland. They do this by stealing teenagers and doing terrible things to them while they are in the Sidhe lands. Each teen is taken by surprise and is in the Sidhe lands for a little over 3 minutes in human time. But they are in the Sidhe lands for long enough to be played with, taunted, tortured and killed in terrible ways. The few who survive their time with the Sidhe and return home are maimed and horribly disfigured for life (in fun and entertaining ways if you are a horror fan!). By the end, you understand why some are returned home and what the Sidhe’s real game is.

Because this book deals with teens, you have the usual teen angst, cliques, and crushes. But, because of the time they live in, you also get some truly terrifying situations that will make your skin crawl. My favorite parts of the book happened while the teens were “called” – descriptions of humans shaped into horses and screaming overcoats made out of human mouths anyone? So, if you like your horror with some high fantasy thrown in, you could definitely do worse than this book. Just don’t try to listen to the audiobook unless you are able to solely focus on it to the exclusion of everything else.

View all my reviews

My Best Friend’s Exorcism – a book review in 200 words

My Best Friend’s Exorcism
by Grady Hendrix

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Grady Hendrix, author of the Orsk store turned hell-house tale, Horrorstör, has taken us for another scary-fun and disturbing journey with his new book, My Best Friend’s Exorcism.  I originally picked up the book because of the title, but the design of the book served as the clincher; it mimics a 1980s high school yearbook, signatures, ads and all.

Horror fans will enjoy the book’s smorgasbord of terrible things, from uncontrollable vomiting to animal mutilation.  But, the truly terrifying scenes present the demon, in teen girl form, masterfully exploiting all her friend’s insecurities – boys, bodies, friendships, and social status.

The two best friends, Abby and Gretchen, are popular.  They are untroubled, complacent.  They are self-absorbed as only teen girls can be.  Until a night of partying, when Gretchen disappears overnight.  With Gretchen’s return, Abby is slowly stripped of all her assurances and comfort.  We, the horrified audience, can only watch the story unfold bit by gruesome bit.

Children of the ‘80s will enjoy the nostalgia: song references, fashion choices, devil worshippers, cult members, and being a teen before cell phones were a thing.  Really, there’s nothing like a possessed teen to scare your pants off!

Rating: 89/100

Buy My Best Friends Exorcism at Barnes & Noble

She remembered being “buzzed on the dopamine high of belonging to someone else, having a total stranger choose you, someone who wanted to know you, another person who cared that you were alive.” – on being a best friend, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Brady Hendrix

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