Friday, August 11, 2017

[Review] The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Rating: 4.5 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: August 25th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: 
In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
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.

My second book for #ARCAugust!

I don't normally read horror. I don't normally watch horror either - I would think them too silly or not scary enough for me.

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall surpassed my expectations on the horror genre. Coincidentally, I was also watching a Supernatural episode on an asylum the day before I picked up this book, so I guess I had some idea of what I was walking into.

So Cordelia Piven, aka Delia, inherits a former asylum from her great-aunt, who was also a Cordelia. Her family stays in the house over the summer in order to refurbish it. However, this house has a way of making its guests stay longer than they would.

This book was definitely a scary and suspenseful read. The author had a way of upping the creepy factor with these interludes/throwbacks of memories from the main character, Delia. And the pacing of the story worked well with the mysterious vibe - after things went south for Delia, the concept of time was lost on her and the other ghosts.

Delia herself was a very grounded (ironically) and sound main character, given the circumstances. She was likable, reasonable, and made practical decisions like the one below. You know how many times people run into a lookalike of someone they love without testing them first to see if they're the real deal?

No. No. That was exactly what the house was trying to do to me - use my sister to break down my defenses.
"What did Mom used to say to us?" I felt like I was going to choke on my own sadness. "Every night before bed, when we were young?"
She smiled tenderly. "You tell me."
"Just say it, Janie," I said. "And then I'll know it's you."
Her smile faltered.
"You don't know," I whispered. "Because you're not her. You're just a monster." 

I also liked the ending in the sense that it was more or less realistic for a horror story. Had Delia come back to life, the whole thing would have felt fake and too magical, cheapening the kind-of reunion with her family. The acceptance of being dead brought the story to a good close.

Only issues I had with this book were some vaguely parts - one example is that Delia never explained why she ended up coming to the house for the summer, only that it was an "accident" that occurred over spring break.

Other than that, a recommended horror story for Halloween! Or anytime really.

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