The lives of the Barretts, a suburban New England family, are torn apart when 14-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to halt Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend. Fifteen years later a best-selling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories begin to surface, and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed.
"Terrific.... Generates a haze of an altogether more serious kind: the pleasurable fog of calculated, perfectly balanced ambiguity." ( The New York Times Book Review)
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By Kaggy on 30-03-18
Truly mad and deeply disturbing
This is a brilliant and genuinely disturbing piece of horror fiction skilfully intertwining themes of superstition, religion, mental illness, modern day rationality and the vulnerability of children in an economically beleaguered family.
In the story’s construction the writer is unashamedly influenced by Shirley Jackson and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, with the young heroine, Merry, sharing a similar name to the earlier heroine (Merricat). Like that book this one has a strange out of kilter atmosphere created out the mind of a very wise child. This follows Merry who is 8 years old and in the thrall of her older sister who at 14 years of age is displaying disturbing signs of mental illness. The early scenes where Merry is being cruelly baited by the sister are truly chilling but her trust in her big sister is relentless despite her growing bewilderment and fear. This is a story of a family torn apart by madness and economic misfortune but there is always the question of what is really going on and whose is the head that is full of ghosts.
For those familiar with the Exorcist, the ghastliness of the scenes depicting the apparent possession will hold no surprises but this goes far beyond a straightforward story of good versus evil. There are some bizarre events, including the portrayal of the family’s plight on reality television, but really this is no more crazy than the world we are currently experiencing. Joy Osmanski provides a seamless performance giving a credible voice to Merry as a child and a grown woman. Like Merry you will want to make sense of this story but no matter how thoroughly you analyse this, you will always be left with a head full of unfathomable mystery.
Top marks to this author. He is clearly a man who has tremendous talent and something fresh, new and intelligent to add to this genre.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful