The dead girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

dead-girls-of-hysteria-hallBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Point, 2015
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 329 pages ; 22 cm
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: “Sixteen-year-old Cordelia and her family move into the house they just inherited in Pennsylvania, a former insane asylum the locals call Hysteria Hall–unfortunately the house does not want defiant girls like Delia, so it kills her, and as she wanders the house, meeting the other ghosts and learning the dark secrets of the Hall, she realizes that she has to find a way to save her sister, parents, and perhaps herself.”  Retrieved from Follet’s Titlewave site for the book.
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-63999-6
  • Subjects:
    • Haunted houses – fiction
    • Ghosts – fiction
    • Mental illness – fiction
    • Women’s rights – fiction

Reader’s Annotation: I never wanted to come to this stupid place in the middle of nowhere, anyway.  Now, I’ll never leave.

Plot Summary:  Delia made a mistake; she listened to a boy she thought liked her and things didn’t work out as planned.  So, instead of a wild trip to foreign shores, she’s grounded and under constant watch by her loving and concerned parents.  Oh, and she just inherited a huge house in the middle of nowhere that her parents have decided to ’fix up’ and sell.  There’s just one problem.  The house is really an old mental asylum; the aunt who left it too her committed suicide; and the town thinks the place is haunted.  Unfortunately for Delia, they are right.  But that’s not the problem.  The problem is the house decides to keep Delia and it does that by killing her.  And that’s where her problems really start.  You see the house is haunted by lots of girls that the house killed or caused to die.  And it will not let them go.  So it’s up to Delia to discover the truth behind the house and find a way for them all to be free before the house can claim another victim: Delia’s little sister Janie.

Critical Evaluation:  Katie Alender writes some of the best YA ghost stories on the market today.  They aren’t bloody or horrifically scary but they are very well written, full of relatable characters, and have good solid stories.  In this particular case the book is a stand-alone story unlike some of her others which are series.  The characters are clearly defined within a few pages of the book to be people who can relate to and understand.  The main character, a girl named Delia is killed by a haunted house and spends the majority of the book trying to figure out how and why she died.  The other ghosts she meets in and around the house are as fully fleshed and vibrant of characters as any living person could hope to be.  The entity that is the house and villain of the story is genuinely creepy and disturbing.  The story is just frightening enough to give most tweens and teens the shivers without giving them nightmares.

Author’s Brief Bio:  “Katie Alender grew up in South Florida. She is the third of four children and the child of three very loving and encouraging parents.  She attended high school at the Palm Beach County School of the Arts, studying Communication Arts. From there, she went on to the Florida State University Film School, which led her to her current hometown, a tiny hamlet on the West Coast known as “Los Angeles.”  She enjoys writing, reading, sewing (especially quilts), gardening, photography, and hanging out with her husband, her daughter, and her dogs, Scooter and Frodo.  Her first brush with publication was the article “So You Want to Live On Mars?” published in Sassy magazine in December 1991.” Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1562974.Katie_Alender

Genre Designation: Horror/Ghost Story

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Mental health treatment issues
  • Women’s rights, historical
  • Ghosts / supernatural

Book Talk Ideas: Do you believe in ghosts?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

Why this book was selected.  Katie Alender is a very popular writer at both of my libraries and this is her newest book so I thought I’d try it.  I’m glad I did because it’s really good.

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