Friday, October 9, 2015

Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

 The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall 

Synopsis: 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. 

From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

Date Published: August 25, 2015
Published By: Point
Number of Pages: 329
Rating: 3.5/5


I don't know what I was expecting when I first picked up The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall but it wasn't that the author would kill off her main character in the first 60 pages. 

Delia dies and becomes a ghost. Cool, right? 

It actually is a unique take on the old haunted house/ghost story. Delia is forced to witness her family's grief and despair without being able to do anything about it. What's even worse is she can't follow them when they leave the house for good. She's trapped in the house, along with several other ghosts, some friendly, some not.

I thought Katie Alender's portrayal of ghosts was interesting. Delia could do most of the things that you would expect a ghost to do - walk through walls, interact with physical objects - but all of it takes practice. And then there's the fact that time works differently for the dead than it does for the living. Delia bypasses entire years as if they were mere days. It convinces the reader that ghosts are not just dead, invisible people but beings that operate under different laws of time and space. 

The cast of supporting ghosts is full of interesting, slightly twisted characters. There's Eliza, a girl from the 1920s, who helps Delia learn the ways of the afterlife. There's Florence, a southern belle from the early 20th century who seems nice - at first. And then there's Maria, a ten-year-old girl who is a raving, dangerous lunatic - or is she? My favorite is Theo, the handsome groundskeeper who died on the property and can only wander outside. He shares some sweet moments with Delia but their relationship kind of falls by the wayside as Delia struggles to find out how to destroy the evil that infects the house. 

The ending I found to be a bit messy. There was so much going on that it was hard to keep track of and I can't really remember what exactly was making the house so evil in the first place. It's all wrapped up with a cliched 'blood sacrifice' that I found to be underwhelming. Still, I admire the sacrifice that Delia made in the end - it really showed her growth as a character.

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall may not be a scary ghost story but it is a suspenseful one. I recommend it to readers looking for a horror story that provides thrills, not chills. 

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