Alender, Katie. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
August 25th 2015 by Point
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Delia, along with her academically minded parents (Brad and Lisa) and her flighty younger sister, Janie, head to the house that Delia has inherited from her namesake, Cordelia Piven. The two had written letters for a while when Delia was younger, but she was still surprised to have inherited the property. When the family gets there, they find out that it was a "home for troubled women" until the 1940s, and is considered haunted by the locals. Since Cordelia apparently committed suicide, the family is concerned, but decide to stay in the house. Bad call-- evil spirits cause Delia's death, and she finds herself with the other ghosts. She doesn't take well to being dead, although over time she does manage to befriend Theo, a young contractor who drowned on the property in the early 1940s, as well as as other young women, some of whom are helpful, and some of whom are decidedly scary. Delia knows her aunt was trying to tell her something, and hopes to locate a letter with some explanation. She does, and starts the arduous task of trying to figure out how to deal with Hysteria Hall. This becomes more complicated when her sister and mother return to the house. Janie has become a Goth, and feels somehow at fault for Delia's death. Since she is "troubled", the house wants to claim her, but her presence allows Delia to make some progress on unlocking the many layers of mystery surrounding all of the horrible happenings.
Strengths: Been a fan of Alender's since Bad Girls Don't Die, and this did not disappoint! So many good things going for this story-- loved Theo's existence outside the hall, the various inside ghosts were multifaceted, the life of the aunt was intriguing, and Delia's attempts to make things right (in between trying to get used to being a ghost) were constructive. Very nice.
Weaknesses: I could have done without the back story of Delia's ill considered attempt at going to Florida for spring break against her parents' wishes, and the end of the book could have been tightened up a bit-- there was a lot going on .
What I really think: I always say I don't like scary books, but this was really good. For some reason, it made me think of Down a Dark Hall; maybe just the cover, because the stories are not really similar! Should probably buy two copies!