The book follows the Barrett family as they struggle to find out what is wrong with their fourteen year old daughter, Marjorie. At first they take her to a psychologist to get her help, thinking her issues might be mental health related, and then, due to the father, they pull in a priest. The father doesn't seem to have much pull with the family until one night in particular, and in the end they decide that Marjorie must be possessed and needs an exorcism.
For me there were moments in the book that really bothered me. The blog written throughout by Karen Brissette seemed very unnecessary. It was in each part telling the author why the television show based on the Barrett's life was unrealistic and fake. The reader doesn't need this information, as they should be able to read the book and decide for themselves if the possession of Marjorie was in fact a thing that happened, or something that a struggling family made up to make money. The blog didn't add to the story, and it was distracting.
The novel began with a strong look at the characters, and in the house where things had happened, but it didn't explore this setting as much as it should have. Merry, Marjorie's little sister, is the one who is really telling the story, and if she is back in the setting where everything happened, I would have liked to see more of the house and Merry's reactions. This was especially true as I looked back at the beginning after finishing the book. I wanted there to be more, and I wanted there to be something to bring this book in a circle, but it is abstract and there are things that don't seem to connect.
There are also characters that seem important, but in the end the fade into the book and don't have any presence when they should. The ending was a little bit of a surprise, something I wasn't expecting, but it is the only part of the book that stood out to me. The ending stood out because it made me question what was going on in the house, was Marjorie possessed, mentally ill, or an average teenage girl? Was there something wrong with her father that caused him to need the church and believe that nothing but the church could save his daughter? Was the mother absent in their lives because she didn't want to be married, or did she not see what was going with her family? Was Merry the antagonist of the story?
Most of the time the characters fell flat, and having an eight year old Merry be narrator, to me, made her an unreliable narrator, especially since the reader has no idea what she actually saw, or what she really knew or remembered.
The last thing I'd like to say is that this book did not scare me. I don't know what most people who were scared found frightening in this book, because honestly this seemed like an amalgamation of a bunch of other stories and novels. It is almost as if Tremblay did decide to read all of the books and watch all of the movies mentioned in the book and take pieces of each one to put in this novel. I wanted to be scared, but what was I supposed to be afraid of? An abusive family? A family in chaos? A little girl who ends up doing something terrible and never getting caught? So much is left unsaid, and nothing is really developed.
The only thing that did stay with me was the ending, like I mention earlier, because it wasn't quite what I expected. I expected Marjorie to die a horrible death during the entirety of a book, and I expected something bad to happen to the family, but I did not expect what actually happened.
I am happy I read this, but it wasn't as great as I had been led to believe, and I'm not sure I will read any more of Tremblay's books, only because his writing style didn't quite work with me.