Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

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I love a good ghost story.  Sure, blood and gore are fine.  But the scariest stories take you right to the edge and no farther, leaving your imagination to conjure things far scarier than the author’s words alone could ever manage.  This one from Katie Alender does just that.

When Delia’s aunt passes away, it comes as a surprise that she’s left her home to Delia.  Sure, they wrote to each other from time to time.  But they weren’t especially close, or at least that’s how it seemed to Delia.  But apparently she was wrong.  So off she goes with her mom, dad, and sister to clean out the rambling estate and sell it off.

She wasn’t prepared, however, to be the owner of an abandoned insane asylum.  And not only that, but it’s haunted.  When the first odd happenings start, she brushes it off as just her imagination. But then things get too real too fast.  And then Delia’s dead.

Here’s where the real fun begins.  Now she’s one of them.  She can see, feel, and communicate with the other ghosts at Hysteria Hall.  And boy, are there plenty of them.  It seems that more than a few patients didn’t ever leave.  Now they’re stuck there forever.  Delia probably could have resigned herself to wandering the hallways for eternity.  Until her family comes back to the house.  She can’t just sit around and watch her sister suffer the same fate she did.

This was a fun book to read.  Lots of ghosts with great descriptions, high on the goosebumps factor, and high on the page-turning scale.  Also a great read for young adults!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

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Review: The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

9781405268288When I was a kid, I loved simple horror stories. Just enough to raise the goosebumps on your arm, maybe a bit more to keep you awake at night. And I still love those kinds of stories today. The problem is, especially for me as a teacher, most scary stories don’t fall within the acceptable range for younger readers. This one by Jane Hardstaff is an exception to that rule.

Meet Moss, a young girl who lives alone with her dad. Dear old Dad just happens to be the executioner of the Tower of London. And Moss is responsible for collecting the heads after each beheading, catching them as they drop and putting them in a basket. It’s the only life she’s every known, and her dad is the only parent she’s ever had since her mom died during childbirth.

But there’s more to that story than Moss has ever been told, and it’s the reason they can’t leave the Tower of London. When Moss finds a way out, she’s inexplicably drawn to the river. The river is slow and steady some days, fast and unpredictable on others. And there’s something lurking just under the surface, something that’s taking young children. Moss discovers that she’s tied to the river in a way she never dreamed possible, going all the way back to her mom’s death.

This book was a pleasant surprise. Not that I was expecting bad things, but you just never know. It’s historical, most definitely, but it has a healthy dose of paranormal/thriller thrown in. And I have to say, this is the first book I’ve read that’s set in Tudor times. This is a story that I’ll definitely be recommending to some young readers who I know. And the sequel, River Daughter, is high at the top of my TBR list.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Executioner’s Daughter

Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

6065182Sarah Waters is known primarily for her erotic Victorian era fiction, however, she takes a detour in her latest (well, latest being 2009) offering. Waters employs the classic first person narrative in the form of Dr Faraday – the ever so sensible and stiff upper lipped family doctor – and this lures the reader into a sense of trust and comfort whilst they get ready to “listen” to the story.

Set in 1947, two years after the war has ended, and a time in which the country was in the midst of economic recovery and social reform, The Little Strangers tells the tale of a grand house that was once the epicenter of social royalty in the early 1900’s.   Throughout the years, the house and indeed the owners, have crumbled into financial despair.  Without giving too much away, let’s just say things aren’t necessarily what they seem at Hundreds Hall.

As mentioned previously, Waters is known and celebrated for her Victorian era erotic fiction.  As shown in this novel, Waters has proved she is not just a one trick pony; the characters are what drive this novel, and Waters is exceptional at bringing them to life.  A great percentage of the novel is devoted to build up, and making the reader care for the characters.  It takes a bit of getting used to as readers are used to instant gratification in most of today’s novels.  Waters has stylized her writing and pace to match those of Henry James, Wilkie Collins and Emily Bronte.  Through this choice in style, it allows the reader to better imagine the world of 1947.  In fact, Waters is so accurate, that I believe this is the first book that I’ve read, since Enid Blyton, that doesn’t have any swearing, violence, or sex.   It is a good old fashioned ghost story, told in a way that will feel authentic, and yet ageless.

At over 500 pages in length, this is not a quick Halloween night read.  This novel is to be savoured and devoured.  The Little Stranger is an intelligent, scary, atmospheric, and slow (in a good way) read.  Well worth the read if you are looking for something different this Halloween!   Just try not to scream too loudly if you hear a floorboard creak!

Buy it here:

The Little Stranger