Down a Dark Hall is a YA thriller by the oh-so-famous author Lois Duncan.
Kit's Mom and her new husband are ready to go on a trip through Europe for their honeymoon and Kit agreed to go to an exclusive boarding school in the meantime. Or at least she agreed to go when she thought her best friend would be coming too. But when Kit's best friend is denied a slot (something that is extremely weird to Kit, as her BFF is way smarter and tests better than her), Kit is rather sullen about it all.
But when Blackwood Hall comes into view - a huge, ancient, imposing mansion that for whatever reason sends shivers down her spine - Kit isn't just sullen, she's scared.
Yet Madame Duret is charming and has been written about in magazines, so what is there really to be afraid of? Sure, the place gives off an unpleasant vibe, but Kit wishes her Mom well and lets them leave her behind, despite the dread it causes.
But then Kit finds out there are only three other students - apparently many applied but only the four of them met their special requirements. Whatever that means, Kit and the other girls never seem to get a good sleep at Blackwood Hall, waking up exhausted and cramped, almost as if they've been moving around all night. Plus, her letters don't seem to be making it out, and with the lack of Internet and cell phone reception, the lack of communication unnerves Kit. She starts to think something bad is going on.
She doesn't know the half of it...
So, this is a book that was originally released in the 1970s, but it was reissued and was modernized a bit with the text. I've read a few of Lois Duncan's books when I was younger and always found them to be riveting and this one was no different in that respect. I literally read it in one day - and that's when I'm working full-time!
Down a Dark Hall is submerged in a truly creepy atmosphere. Its a throwback mystery thriller with a definitely not mushy ghost story intertwined. Ghost Whisperer this is not - this is more dark and disturbing, in a fun way that is. Definitely bite-your-nails suspenseful with a nice slow-burn and patient storytelling that becomes more and more scary as it continues.
I thought it was very nicely modernized - bringing the novel to the 21st century without losing the classic Lois Duncan feel. Kit is relatable and smart - and unlike in some horror novels and (primarily) movies, you don't feel like shaking her or the other characters silly for being dumb and wandering around clueless. Kit is capable and tries her best to get answers.
Down a Dark Hall is increasingly dark, freaky, and claustrophobic with a desperate hopelessness. Not the best book to read right before bed, as Lois Duncan's skill really manages to insert you into the story - whether you want to be there or not!
It's a very fast-paced, entertaining, twisty, twisted, scarefest of a read! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to delving into more reissued Lois Duncan soon!
*I received a review copy of Down a Dark Hall from Hatchette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.