Roux’s first teen novel uses horror staples—spooky corridors, tight-lipped townspeople and convenient coincidences—to predictable but page-turning effect.
New Hampshire College Prep is a haven for gifted students: a place where kids actually want to do their homework. Its Brookline dorm is also a former psychiatric hospital whose past remains prominent not only in town, but in its own abandoned wings. Dan, anxious and awkward, is fascinated by its most infamous inpatient: a serial killer dubbed the Sculptor. His classmates have their own troubles; Abby struggles with family tensions, and Jordan’s parents reject his sexuality. When they find old patient records and receive ghostly emails, they begin an investigation that ends in murder. The mock photo illustrations are eerie and occasionally disturbing, depicting the callous treatment methods of Brookline’s time. A hollow-eyed, scarred child begs for her own story, as do notes from a surgeon convinced he can eradicate insanity. In contrast, the teens’ back stories are more plot devices and heavy foreshadowing than character development, but their friendship is convincingly volatile. Real and ghostly elements mix clumsily and muddle the ending somewhat, but the pictures linger—a tighter focus on the photos’ subjects could have made a truly haunting story.
Fans of “found footage” horror will enjoy this familiar but visually creepy take on the haunted-institution setting. (Suspense. 14-18)