The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.
But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.
And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.
Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.
But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.
I understood why Aunt Cordelia had dragged herself out to the road before committing suicide. Why she hadn’t let herself die on the property.
Because then she would have been stuck forever.
There was nothing particularly brilliant about this book, but it was well-written, it was surprisingly thoughtful, and above all it was entertaining. In a week filled with terrible, boring books, this was a breath of fresh air. Strange to say that about a horror novel, but it is what it is.
The blurb is a little misleading, but I won’t spoil the book. Needless to say, it’s still considerably better than some books that have promised me the world, and then failed to deliver.
16-year old Delia has inherited an old house from a dead aunt whom she barely knows. All the elements of a horror is there in this book. She has a slightly troubled past, which have led her very academic parents to largely lose trust in her. An old aunt has died, leaving her a house. When they get there, they get ominous reactions from the town residents, and the house itself turns out to be an former insane asylum. It looks creepy, even without accounting for all the shit that’s waiting to be uncovered within.
In the narrow spill of light from my phone, I read the first letter: a deeply gouged D.
I walked down the hall, piecing the words together as I saw each new letter.
O … N … T …
SELL THE HOUSE.
Then I noticed smaller letters, under the E in HOUSE. One last word. I held my phone closer.
The message was for me.
My dead great-aunt had gouged messages into the floor for me.
And then, of course, there’s the issue of her aunt’s death. It was a suicide.
Creepy things happens, of course, there are ghosties and ghoulies. As I said, this was a pretty standard YA horror, but what differentiates it from the myriads of other horrors on the market was that it was well-written. I liked the main character. She was real. She wasn’t a brat. Her narration was believable, her actions believable, her frustration and fears and rage were felt by me.
Of course, there are other characters (ghosts!) and they’re pretty cool, too. They have stories of their own, because they all had lives of their own.
“You’re not the only one, you know,” he said, his voice jagged. “We all had people we wanted to see again. We’ve all been left behind. We’re all forgotten. Everyone I ever loved, everyone who ever loved me, is dead. You’re … you’re not the only one.”
And though not frequent, there are plenty of things that go bump in the night.
The only thing about the figure before me that resembled a human child was her height—and her feet.
The rest of her was a grotesque mess. The skin of her face was cratered with black sores. Her eyelids were crisscrossed with the scars of old cuts. Her cheeks and lips had begun to rot away, revealing the decaying interior of her mouth—pitted gums and an uneven row of sharp teeth. It gave her the otherworldly perma-grin of a great white shark, even when she was unconscious.
Her arms were just patchy skin over bone, her fingers curled painfully into claws.
So yeah, read this book. It was pretty good 🙂