Monday, September 22, 2014

Down A Dark Hall, by Lois Duncan

When Kit is accepted into the ultra-exclusive Blackwood Academy, she is thrilled! But upon arriving, things start to feel "off". Kit is only one of four students, the place itself is creepy (that constant feeling of being watched), and there are rumors that the school is haunted. Plus there are no cell phones or any of the usual connections to the outside Kit feels completely cut off and isolated.

Then, one by one, the students begin displaying sudden and extraordinary talents that weren't present before their arrival at Blackwood. Lynda can create beautiful paintings, Ruth can solve complex math equations, Sandy can compose poetry, and Kit experiences an unusual boost in her previously awkward musical abilities. The teachers won't explain it, and school's creepy headmistress vaguely credits Blackwood's unique environment. This is partly correct. Kit learns that those who run Blackwood are using the students (hand-picked for hidden psychic abilities) to channel the restless ghosts of artists, writers, and musicians who died before their time. Problem is, all the previous hosts have gone insane. Or worse. Can Kit and her friends escape Blackwood before it's too late? Or are they doomed to the same fate as those who came before?

Lois Duncan's Down A Dark Hall is one of the author's creepiest titles! Originally published in 1974, the new edition has been updated for 2014 and includes, among other changes, mentions of advancements in technology (cell phones, computers, flat-screen TVs, etc.). Unfortunately, these new inclusions make the story feel awkward and inconsistent (there is an instance where two characters are discussing a song on a CD being played...but a few paragraphs later, the media source is referred to as a 'tape'). 

Down A Dark Hall has been picked up by Lionsgate to be adapted into a movie (no release date set as of this blog's publication). My advice is to grab the book NOW before it becomes so popular there is a mile long wait list to get it. --AJB

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