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.
Title: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Author: Katie Alender
Publication date: August 25, 2015
When Delia’s great-great-aunt dies and leaves her house to Delia, her family decides to takes the summer off, fix up the house, and sell it. Or at least that’s Delia’s parents’ plan. Delia wants to keep the house, but being a teenager, she doesn’t have much say. She’s probably not going to be in a position to pay the real estate takes or the upkeep on the place for at least ten years.
It’s not until they arrive that they find out the place is a creepy-looking former asylum. Delia’s aunt had lived in the superintendent’s apartment a little separate from the main part of the house/asylum. Even so, strange things happen the very first day in the house. Delia hears bells jingling, notices her sweater has moved from one place to another, and senses movement from the corners of her eyes. That night, she and her sister Janie decide to sleep in the ward instead of in the apartment. Doesn’t that seem ill-advised? They take separate rooms and when Delia’s in her own room getting ready for bed, she hears Janie screaming. She and her parents rush to Janie’s room to find her strapped into bed by the restraints used on patients. For Delia, it’s the last straw. She decides she’s leaving, but her parents manage to lock her into her room. That turns out to be a huge mistake. Huge!
Delia ends up staying in the house, getting to know the ghosts who inhabit it, and learning more about the place and its history. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall isn’t particularly scary, although some of the ghosts are dangerous and are out to get Delia or anyone else who gets in their way. They were admitted to the asylum in life, and while some of them were harmless then and are harmless now, some of them probably needed psychiatric help. Whether or not Hysteria Hall was the place to get it is another story, but there was a time that asylums were where people who were different were sent.
It’s super difficult to talk much about this book without spoilers so I’m going to make this short. I didn’t find any of the ghosts or their backstories particularly interesting. I would have liked to know more about them, I just wasn’t that interested in what I did know. I guess I wanted better ghosts! But the book is still good even without that. I was most interested in the mystery behind the house, the story that Delia slowly uncovers. The setting is one of the best things about the book, but it was hard for me to picture it, inside or out. I’m not sure if it just wasn’t described well or if I couldn’t make the connection in my own mind.
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is the first book I’ve read by Katie Alender but I hope to check out some more of her YA horror next October.