The Troop

I apologize for the delay in posting. I’ve been doing a bit of beta reading. Side note- if anyone needs a beta reader, please contact me!

It is no secret that I love Stephen King. He’s just one of the greatest writers and I think doesn’t get the respect he deserves because he’s mostly known for being a horror writer. But he is so much more than that. He’s truly a master storyteller. So, when he recommends books, I make a note to read them at some point. For the 2017 book challenge, I had to read a book recommended by an author you love, so this was an easy category. I already had The Troop on my Kindle and just hadn’t gotten to it, yet. I have previously read another of Nick Cutter’s books, The Deep, and really enjoyed that one, so I was looking forward to another one.

Hoooo boy, this one was pretty intense. And gross. Like really gross, by my standards. I still liked it, but the grossness was a bit of a turn off. This is a personal preference, though. It says nothing about his writing or storytelling. The basic plot is that a troop of 14 year old Boy Scouts (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is…I forget exactly the specifics) and their Scoutmaster have gone camping on a deserted island just off Prince Edward Island when a sick guy in a boat comes along. The guy smashes their radio and the boat he came on no longer works. It’s clear the man is dying, and conveniently, the Scoutmaster is a doctor, but he can’t figure out what is wrong. As the story progresses, you get answers as to what the illness is, and unfortunately, how it spreads from person to person. Yep. It’s rough.

The boys (5 of them) have their own demons to face (one’s an asshole, one’s overweight, etc) which play into the dynamics of the situation. This book was reminiscent of The Long Walk (by SK under the Bachman name) where you wonder which one(s) will make it alive. It’s pretty clear from the onset that not everyone makes it home from the island. The story is also told after the event is over from the perspective of media reports, interviews, etc. These small bits are interspersed in the chapters.

But, like I said, you’ve been warned that this book is pretty gross in parts. I don’t want to go into detail to avoid spoilers, but if you are the least bit squeamish about the human body and illness, it might behoove you to avoid this one. I’ve read worse, yes, but I do want to just let you know.

Overall, I enjoyed Cutter’s other book, The Deep, more. That shouldn’t detract from this book though. It’s a great read. I truly couldn’t put it down, wondering who survives and just how horrific the story was going to get.

A Head Full of Ghosts completed

Confession that I didn’t know a single thing about this book when I bought it, other than it scared Stephen King. I assumed it was a horror book, but that was it. So I bought it because SK rules all.

Turns out this book is about demon possession and an exorcism. Sort of. Let me preface all this by saying that I hate the demon possession story line. It has been done over and over again with no new results. Either the possession is real or it isn’t. Either the demon is exorcised or it isn’t. There just isn’t a new or creative way of telling this story. And that holds true for this book.

That said, this book is very well written, but it didn’t scare me at all. I wanted to know what happened to the possessed girl and her family, but I won’t be having any nightmares over this one. Partly, because this type of story just isn’t scary to me. I don’t believe in demon possession, so it’s not something that I actually fear. If a person were afraid of this type of thing, I imagine this book would be quite terrifying. I did enjoy it, though. Mostly because the character, Merry, telling the story was such a fantastic unreliable narrator. She’s 8 and watching her family deal with her 14 year old sister’s possession and subsequent arrival of a slew of cameras and people who are filming this all for reality tv.

The delivery of the story was unique. Present day Merry telling a journalist the story of 8 year old Merry, combined with a blog poster who has watched the series dozens of times and is reviewing it and providing insights for her readers.

I recommend the book for the reasons above, namely the creative way the story is presented, although not for the simple demon possession plot. If that’s your thing, it’s worth reading because the possessed girl is sufficiently creepy.

A Head Full of Ghosts 40% done

What a creepy little story! The majority of it is told by 8 year old Merry, as she watches her older sister, Marjorie, fall into the grips of possession. Marjorie has always been Merry’s hero, so seeing the transformation is confusing and difficult for Merry. And let me tell ya, Marjorie says some really awful things to poor Merry. I won’t even begin to describe some of the things she witnesses, either.

Alternating chapters are from a blogger who comments on the tv series that the family had that documented Marjorie’s change. They needed the money, so they allowed cameras in to film their lives.

And then we have adult Merry speaking to a writer about her life as a child.

Between these three perspectives, we really get a good idea of what happened in the house and how the entire “demon possession” concept is perceived by people and media.

I’m hooked on this story!

A Head Full of Ghosts

Last night, I started A Head Full of Ghosts. One of the many things I love about Stephen King is that he recommends books constantly via media outlets. This particular book “scared the living hell” out of him. And when it went up on Amazon for $2 Kindle, I figured, why not? I don’t buy many Kindle books at full price (or any books for that matter), utilizing my local library, and Half Price Books usually. The rarities are ones that I already own hardback versions of from before I got my Kindle (like the Passage series) and now that I’ve started in hardback, I will continue to buy the rest of the series in that format. And I’m trying to build the entire SK collection in hardback, albeit used copies mostly.

I digress…. I’m very excited about this book. I read maybe 10% last night and am already hooked. It’s not ridiculously long, so I’ll get through it quickly, I think. And it seems to be in a couple formats: 1st person narrative spliced with a different character’s blog.

I like books that are terrifying in an understated way. I’m not a big fan of gross out horror, just because it’s so ridiculous. But I do love a good spooky or suspenseful story. Fingers crossed that this book is one of the latter.