The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
by Katie Alender
Delia's new house isn't just a house. It used to be an insane asylum, a place to lock up "troubled" young women long ago. And a restless, wicked spirit is still at play--and it doesn't want defiant girls like Delia to go anywhere. So the house kills her.
Now Delia is a ghost, trapped in her creepy home forever. As she meets the other ghost girls who haunt the narrow hallways, as well as the handsome ghost boy on the grounds, she learns shocking truths about the house's history. Delia also realizes that her alive and grieving sister might be the house's next target. Can Delia unlock the mystery of the old asylum, save her sister, and free herself?
Reviewed by Coll
My rating: 3 coffee cups
It has been a while since I’ve read a good haunted house horror book so I was excited for The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. Delia inherits a house with a troubled past and while visiting the house it kills her, trapping her ghost on the property. She soon finds that she is not alone, she is trapped with the ghosts of other girls who died in the house when it served as an asylum for women. As Delia struggles to come to terms with life as a ghost she also searches for the underlying evil in the house in the hopes of destroying it, saving her sister, and freeing the souls of the trapped ghosts.
My first thought about this book was that while it has its creepy elements I didn’t think it qualified as horror but as just young adult paranormal. I’m not sure if this is because of the background I have in reading horror or if the book really just wasn’t scary. Another issue I had was in the beginning of the book I found myself bothered by the writing style because it was so adolescent; I found it very much like reading the diary of a teenager. When I took a moment to think, however, I realized that since the story is being told from the point of view of a young teenager it would make sense to be written in such a way.
The premise of the book was reminiscent of many stories that already exist. I was hoping for more twists or something to separate it from the other haunted house stories that are out there but nothing about it really stood out to me. Nonetheless, the book did hold my interest and I found it intriguing enough for me to want to keep reading. Alender did a great job of describing the house in such a way that she almost gave a life to it. The main character, Delia, is someone that you care for and you grow to sympathize with her and the other ghosts in the book as well, as you learn their tragic stories. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the story is that ghosts are portrayed in a manner that I don’t think I have ever seen done before and I found it very unique and compelling. It makes the reader think of ghosts in a new way and you are able to relate to them more easily.
One thing I noticed early on in this book is how it makes you think. It took me back to when I was a teenager and how I behaved towards my family at times and I could not help but wonder what would have happened if the chance for me to show them how much I cared for them and loved them had been taken away. What Delia and her family go through is incredibly emotional and if you put yourself in Delia’s shoes it is heartbreaking to think “what if this happened to me?” Every ghost has their own emotional story and at times the book can be quite somber and poignant, in a thought-provoking but not depressing way.
For the majority of the time that I was reading the book I found it to be entertaining and was compelled to keep reading it. However its inability to scare me and the last few chapters of the book were its main downfall to me. It seemed like the author did not want to end the story quite yet so she kept adding in more scenarios to keep it going and the story became slightly tiresome at times. In regards to the ending, I felt like there should have been more to it from how everything about the evil in the house had been built up and when all was said and done I found myself a little disappointed.
If you are looking for a scary horror book to read this would not be the book for you. It is an entertaining young adult paranormal book but, aside from the portrayal of ghosts, it is not really a new concept in haunted house stories. I would recommend The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall more for someone who is not a huge fan of horror but is looking for a mild taste of it.
“Every fairy tale starts the same: Once upon a time. Maybe that’s why we love them so much. We all get to be part of that story. Just by existing, you get your once upon a time. It’s part of the deal. What’s not part of the deal, it turns out, is the happily ever after.”
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