In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
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.
From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness. – Goodreads
So we begin this book knowing that Delia, the main character and narrator, is no longer among the living. She inherits a creepy house from her great aunt, and it is almost immediately apparent that the place is haunted. And with a nickname like Hysteria Hall, why wouldn’t it be? Hysteria was a common word used for women in Freud’s time, and a lot of the time, women diagnosed as “hysterical” were just women with too many opinions, as Delia’s mother says (she holds a degree in women’s studies and is pretty awesome). The circumstances of Delia’s death are awful, and watching her parents and sister react to it is even worse. It’s heartbreaking and wrenching; grief is a terrible, destructive thing. Alender did a great job of capturing that fact.
Delia has a hard time letting go. She is angry and she is scared and she won’t be told that she can’t go home again. The other ghosts–Florence and Eliza and Theo–keep trying to tell her that the past is best left there, but she won’t listen. She lets her rage consume her. She can’t let go. Things start to happen, things that are inexplicable even to a ghost. Delia is warned that things are not always as they seem.
I read this in a day. I loved it. I admit, I am a sucker for a ghost story, and this was a perfect one. Alender really weaves a great tale here, and there are twists and turns throughout. Totally worth reading (but maybe not if you’re looking for some Christmas cheer…)