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Book Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

Delia’s estranged aunt has died and left her a huge old house.  Long before it was a private residence, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females.  Essentially an insane asylum for troubled women, the house earned the nickname “Hysteria Hall” from local townsfolk.  Rumored to be haunted, Delia and her family embark on what is supposed to be a summer spent readying the house for sale.  But the house likes to trap strong-willed girls inside its walls.  And it traps Delia.  After that, Delia starts to learn all about the house’s sinister secrets, and realizes that she’s not the only soul stuck in limbo.

Katie Alender’s innovative ghost story takes all the expected tropes and twists them around into something completely fresh and captivating.  Truly suspenseful and often smartly funny, this is a standout ghost story that will keep readers engaged from start to finish and is a great addition to any horror collection.  Perfect Halloween season reading, this is not to be missed.

It helps that Alender has come up with a better-than-average ghost story to start with.  Although the story starts in a fairly predictable way, it soon takes a sharp and unexpected turn, which is guaranteed to surprise readers and keep them completely glued to the page.  The high creep factor and the fact that none of the book’s characters are necessarily what they seem to be also keeps things interesting and the stakes high.  There’s an eerie feel to the novel throughout, and the gothic-style scares will keep readers on their toes.

Scary, original, and full of twists and turns, Alender knows her way around a creepy story.  This is perfect horror for readers who like their stories original and their gore on the very light side.  Wholly engrossing, this is a delight from start to finish.  Highly recommended.

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender. Point: 2015. Library copy.


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