Where do I even begin? This was one of those "Who cares if I have to get up in the morning? I'm going to keep reading!" books. It's dark, haunting, suspenseful, and poignant, and I found it absolutely compelling.
I'll start with Mallory. Poor girl had suffered a traumatic event and instead of getting her some counseling, her parents shipped her off to boarding school with a prescription for sleeping pills and the admonition to be good. Mallory *was* good, or she was trying to be, but she was slowly losing her mind to hallucinations and secret memories and the terror that gripped her tighter and tighter as the story progressed. I found Mallory to be sympathetic. I easily identified with her relationships with others. And her terror became my terror until I was nearly skimming the paragraphs because I just had to know that it ended okay for her.
I really loved the setting, too. The author is skilled at bringing details to life. I could smell the ocean and feel the breeze in the scenes in Mallory's home town. And the dark, foreboding, secretive atmosphere of the boarding school became a setting in its own right.
The pacing was superb. The tension tightened as the plot progressed, and the author fed us bits and pieces of Mallory's past even as we hurtled into a future where she seemed destined to go crazy, either from a ghost haunting her or from the dangerous girl in her dorm or from the fracturing of her own mind. There were moments of heartwarming friendship, terrible fear, and poignant insight into what makes us human and what matters. The story itself is both lovely and scary, a combination that definitely works for me.
What Left Me Wanting More:
There were a few times early on in the story when the author gave us flashbacks without using italics (structuring it as Mallory just remembering something offhand) and I found myself sometimes a bit confused over *when* that memory happened. I had to re-read a couple of paragraphs to make sure I understood the context. But after that, every detail, past or present, was smooth.
A dark, terrifying tale full of heartache and suspense, HYSTERIA is a must-read for fans of thrillers, mystery, or simply a well-written story that will keep you up long past your bedtime.