The moment I heard about this book, I was so excited to read it.
I absolutely love horror, especially ghost stories, or stories involving any kind of haunting or ghosts. So when I came across this book, I was pretty excited to read it, because it promised a lot of awesomeness.
The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall starts off with Delia and her family heading to the new house she inherited from a her great aunt, Cordelia. While the two had written letters when Delia was younger, they hadn’t corresponded in quite some time, so Delia wasn’t sure what the expect when she had heard about inheriting the house. So it came as a bit of a surprise when she inherited a hospital for troubled women, which was often referred to as Hysteria Hall. The family plans on spending the summer at this house, cleaning it up, and getting it ready to sell, then leaving and going back home
What they don’t know is that the house is evil, and it has no intention of letting Delia leave.
Quite a few creepy things happen in the beginning of this book that made Delia really want to get out of there, and go home. When she tells her parents about this, they don’t believe her, and they lock her in her room when she tries to leave (she made a mistake once, and because of this mistake, her parents no longer trust her). That’s when the house kills her.
Yep, that’s right. The house (and the evil that lives in the house) kills her.
However, Delia wakes up a short time later, only to find out that she is no longer alive, but she’s a ghost. She watches her parents leave, and she tries desperately to go with them, but she can’t leave. She’s trapped at Hysteria Hall, as a ghost. So she spends her time with the other ghosts, who teach her what it’s like to be a ghost (how to walk through walls, pick up objects, etc.).
Eventually (years later), her mother and sister, Jane, return, and the house decides it wants Jane, too. So Delia and the other ghosts in the house (along with Jane, even though she can’t see Delia), try to combat the evil in the house (and discover some shocking secrets), and try to save Jane and their parents, and hopefully be able to leave Hysteria Hall, once and for all.
Oh I loved this book. It had the right amount of creepy/horror going on, and I won’t lie – there were at least one or two times when I was too creeped out to read any more at night. The characters in this book were so complex, and made the story so likeable. Even the characters who weren’t exactly good made the book enjoyable, they were so well written. The book is also told in two parts – the part before the house killed Delia (complete with some notes made after she died), and the part after. The notes in the beginning were enjoyable to read, and watching Delia’s character grow throughout the book was one of my favorite aspects of the novel.
I’ll admit that I haven’t read any of Katie Alender’s other books, but reading this one made me want to read her others, too. This was one of those fantastic books that I wanted to read again as soon as I had finished it, and if you love ghost/horror stories, then I would definitely recommend this one!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
• Interview with Katie Alender •
As well as getting the chance to read this amazing book, I also was fortunate enough to get an interview with Katie Alender! I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity, and I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did!
Q. Can you start off by telling us a little about yourself? Where did you grow up? What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
A. I grew up in South Florida, where I went to an arts high school for writing but then switched my focus to video production. I attended film school for college and then moved to Los Angeles, where I worked for years in the entertainment industry, mostly in writing-related jobs. Along the way I started writing a book in my spare time, and that book became Bad Girls Don’t Die, my first published novel. When I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with my family and my dogs, and sewing! I’m obsessed with trying to finish up a bunch of unfinished quilts. I also like reading and watching TV.
Q. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. I think it was in fourth grade. My third grade teacher had us write stories in class every week, and in fourth grade I made “author” part of my future career plans. Along with marathon runner, artist, and otter caretaker at the zoo. I had a mental image of myself managing all four of these careers at the same time.
Q. Where did you come up with the idea for The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall?
A. It started with the idea of wanting to put a twist on the typical ghost story mold. I have always put a lot of effort into the backstories of my ghosts, so I thought it was really interesting to see the whole story from a ghost’s POV.
Q. How long did it take you to write the book?
A. The first draft was about five months and the revisions probably totaled five or six weeks. This was the fastest book I’ve ever written! It was truly a whirlwind.
Q. I imagine in was really fun writing a book from the perspective of Delia, who is a ghost from the majority of it. What was your favorite part about writing the book?
A. I think my favorite part was definitely seeing how the ghosts perceive and try to interact with living humans. For so many books I saw everything from the POV of someone alive, and they had little clues from ghosts. With this book I had the chance to see how those same clues originate from the ghosts’ side of things.
Q. Was it difficult writing about characters who were ghosts and could not communicate with the living?
A. No, I wouldn’t say it was any more difficult than any of my other books. The amount of homework you do in building the “rules” of the ghost universe is the same whether you’re seeing the story from one side or another. I just got to look through the window from the inside rather than the outside, so to speak.
Q. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall had a good deal of very interesting characters! Who was your favorite character?
A. I like a lot of the characters! One of my favorites is a spoiler. So I’ll name my other favorite — Eliza, one of the ghosts. She’s British and pretty much a smart aleck while being very dry, which was very fun to write.
Q. Delia changes a lot over the course of the book, feeling a lot of different emotions as the book progresses. What was it like for you to develop her character so well?
A. It was very satisfying. It’s always satisfying to watch a character achieve what you hoped at the beginning they would achieve. It’s also a relief because it means I can end the book! Ha ha.
Q. Were there any unexpected plot twists in the book that you didn’t plan on when you came up with the idea for the book?
A. Oh, always. There are always so many things that come up in the writing and even in the revising. Especially the ghost backstories. Because you can plan out the plot of a book in the oultine, and some character stuff, but most of the things you learn about minor characters you can only learn by actually writing them out. And learning more about your characters is often what leads to the plot twists. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever gone into writing book knowing what the twist would be. Out of all six of my books. (Although I think I know what it will be for my next book!)
Q. What is your favorite book of all time, and why?
A. I have so many favorite books, for so many reasons. Some make me feel happy, some make me think, some get me lost in the stories, some are so lyrical that I get carried along by the language… I guess overall I’d have to go with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Because you can’t go wrong with Pride and Prejudice!
About the Author
Katie Alender is the author of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall, Famous Last Words, Marie Antoinette: Serial Killer, and the Bad Girls Don’t Die series. She is a graduate of the Florida State University Film School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. When she’s not writing novels, she can usually be found quilting, reading, eating delicious high-calorie foods, and hanging out with her friends (on very special occasions, she manages to do all of those things at once).
Other Books by Katie Alender: