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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Fabulously tense YA thriller: a compelling tale of extreme emotions. 

I really enjoyed this suspenseful read, whipping through the pages to find out what was happening, only to find more uncertainties and twists as the book went on (but don't worry, all is resolved and clear by the end).

Mallory goes away to a fancy prep school to get away from her home town, where everyone knows she stabbed her boyfriend and - although she is not in trouble legally - she is plagued by threats and gossip. What her parents don't know is that she is literally haunted by that night's events, hearing noises and feeling a presence every night as she tries to sleep, and of course, you can't dodge ghosts as easily as you can real people. The stakes are raised when there is a death at her new school and, naturally, everyone has by then found out enough of Mallory's secret for her name to be the subject of gossip once more.

The narration is first person and past tense, giving us a very close-up view of Mallory under extreme stress and barely sleeping. It's great to see an unreliable narrator being used to great effect in a YA novel, and Mallory's inability to be certain about the truth of events is an effective way to add to the novel's tension. Information about 'that night' is drip fed as Mallory's memories return through her creepy nightly reliving of events, in which she gets closer and closer to the actual stabbing each time. The haunting element is genuinely scary. It isn't long before Mallory's physical sensations of being grabbed are resulting in bruises and we're left wondering whether her lack of sleep has supernatural, psychological or physical causes: is she haunted by a particularly dangerous ghost that can hurt her? is she losing her mind? is someone living doing this to her for some kind of revenge or punishment? The mystery element is delivered perfectly and I changed my mind several times about what I thought was 'really' happening: just as it should be.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this for YA readers looking for a thriller that keeps you guessing to the end.

From the blurb:

Mallory's life is falling apart.

Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear...

When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips.

Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

Published 14 February by Bloomsbury Children's
Find out more at Goodreads
My grateful thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy

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