A rebellious 16-year-old becomes trapped in a definitely haunted old insane asylum, possibly forever.
This superior ghost story keeps the creep factor high, presenting readers with what appears to be a just-normal-ghost-folks mystery storyline before turning into a suspensefest. When Delia inherits a house—a notorious former insane asylum—from a namesake aunt, her whole family goes to stay there. It doesn’t take long for Delia to realize the place is seriously haunted, but although the house will release her family, it kills her rather than let her go. Stuck there, she meets a variety of ghosts, most of whom seem quite pleasant but none of whom can leave the premises. Delia seems to be making progress in uncovering the secret evil of the house, but her investigations threaten both her and her family. Plus, the initially friendly ghosts might not all be as they first seem. Alender creates a fascinating, eerie world that turns on a nicely original use of time and features constantly interesting characters. Delia is likable and sympathetic even as she strikes out, and the house itself becomes a character, as readers wonder who or what is at the root of the evil that lurks there. The final confrontation will have readers curling their toes.
A really scary and original ghost story, well told. Read it with the lights on. (Paranormal suspense. 12-18)