The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender, paperback novel, 329 pages, published by Scholastic in 2015.
When Delia’s distant aunt dies and leaves her an old house, her family is surprised to discover that it is actually a mansion previously used as a mental asylum. Delia’s parents had planned to do it up over the summer prior to selling it, despite their daughter’s protests. Neither Delia nor Janie want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere in a creepy old house, but that’s about all they can agree on. When some strange things begin to happen to Delia, she decides to leave, even if her parents refuse to go too. Except, the house won’t let her leave…
This was a ghost story told from the perspective of the ghost. It wasn’t as scary as I had thought it would be, but it was still interesting. It delivered a few turns I wasn’t expecting, and it pushed at my preconceived notions of ghosts. I’ve always thought of ghost time as passing much the same way as real time passes, so I was intrigued by the idea that time could slow or speed up for the ghosts in this story. When months or even years can pass within a few breaths, it would certainly reduce the likelihood of boredom during a haunting, especially when so few people visit the old asylum. The fact that the ghosts could learn to manipulate their surrounds, such as picking up small objects or opening doors, yet they could also walk through walls, and be hurt, was quite interesting.
The house is really creepy, with it’s abandoned rooms, old leather restraints and eerie corridors. And that’s before you know for sure that it is haunted and that an evil force has overtaken the building! I liked the descriptive qualities of the writing, particularly the way the ghosts were described. The ghosts came alive for me (no pun intended!), especially Florence and Eliza.
The story itself was compelling, and kept me reading fairly swiftly. I really wanted to know what would happen to Delia, and to the house and its ghostly inhabitants. It was a good length for a teen novel. It also wasn’t too complicated or frightening, so younger teens could also enjoy it. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall was different to other ghostly novels I’ve read, in a good way, and I enjoyed reading it.
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is suitable for high school students. Fans of horror and ghost stories should enjoy this journey into the world after death.