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Down a Dark Hall (1974)

de Lois Duncan

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7161323,234 (3.82)2 / 34
Suspicious and uneasy about the atmosphere at her new boarding school, fourteen-year-old Kit slowly realizes why she and the other three students at the school were selected.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 13 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Enjoyable read with lots of mystery and unexpected twists. I thought the end was a bit abrupt, that's why it's only getting three stars. I just needed one more chapter for it to feel like a fully finished story. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
I wasn't sure whether or not to expect this book to be spooky, since I didn't remember being at all frightened by it when I first read it in the 6th grade. (Honestly, all I remembered was the headmistress's "dreamy" son, Jules.) On second reading, more than 20 years later, it is not spooky at all. (Nor is it terribly engaging. All the characters are pretty two-dimensional.)

But I was terribly distracted by the "modernizations." When my copy came from the library the back warned of "modernized text" and I wondered what that could possibly mean. This book was originally published in 1974. Though that was a little before my time, we spoke modern English then, I've heard.

The "modernizations" are revised descriptions of clothing (the bellbottoms I distinctly remember Jules wearing when I was in the 6th grade are now "fitted jeans") and repetitive mentions of widescreen TVs, cell phones, and internet. Perhaps it would not seem so to a first time reader, but to me these additions seemed to be shoehorned in just as ineffectively as the CGI extras that were inserted into the original Star Wars movies.

My teenaged nieces can navigate Dickens, Hemingway, and Salinger without difficulty, but the publisher thinks they'll balk at the lack of technology in the 1970s?
( )
1 vota sterlingfink | Sep 5, 2019 |
I was in fourth grade when this book made its debut. A classmate read the book, and the rest of us checked it out as soon as the previous person returned it. This book, along with Phyllis Whitney's Window on the Square led to my reading lots of gothic romance and romantic suspense novels as a middle schooler. I noticed its availability as a Kindle e-book a couple months ago and decided I wanted to re-read it. Kit's mother and step-father enroll her in Blackwood Hall, a very selective boarding school with only four students. When Kit arrives, she feels the presence of evil. Each character shows talent previously unknown. Unable to communicate with the outside world, the girls must stick together to fight the forces of evil. As I began reading it, I realized the Kindle version was an updated version because the girls talked about e-mail and Internet and owned cell phones and laptops. At least one minor character's name was also updated. I still want to read the book's original version, but the overall story remained much the same. I think I remember one or two scenes from the 1974 version which were changed in the update, but I really need to read the original to make sure I'm remembering correctly. The ending seemed a little rushed when I read it this time, but the book still entertained. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jun 19, 2019 |
cheesy and bizarre. I found this book to be trippy when I was 11 or so. ( )
  eyelit | Mar 21, 2018 |
Recently I picked up a book called [b: A Deadly Game of Magic|331832|A Deadly Game of Magic|Joan Lowery Nixon|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328875602s/331832.jpg|1651904] by [a: Joan Lowery Nixon|129033|Joan Lowery Nixon|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1209044147p2/129033.jpg]. It was creepy, cheesy, and almost a perfect time capsule of a brief, enjoyable period of time in the 70s and 80s when young adult horror books were the G.I. Joe of literature - horror was flying everywhere, but no one ever got killed.

Captivated, I checked out a few others, including some of Lois Duncan's lesser known works. Enter Down a Dark Hall. The plot revolves around Kit (a plucky, independent girl, as all girls named Kit so inevitably are), whose mother and stepfather enroll her at Blackwood School for Girls, an elite private school where, as the tagline so charmingly reads, "the private lessons might kill you". Three other girls show up and begin to have strange dreams and manifest talents they never had before.

This book was magnificently cheesy, which is precisely what I was looking for. The bad guys are obvious from the beginning, there is a love interest who is thrown in almost as an afterthought, and there is the requisite scary moments. You may think I'm complaining, but I assure you that this book gave me exactly what I wanted. This was the smoked gouda of cheesy perfection as far as I'm concerned.

Where it lost me was that it never seemed to figure out what it wanted to me - and when your book is this short, it needs to be fairly direct. First we have that the house has an evil aura. Fair enough. Then we find out that the family who owned it before perished in a fire years before.

Seems like a pretty standard ghost story, right?

Wrong!

Because then, of course, we find out why the girls have been manifesting such strange talents. They're conduits for the ghosts of past artistic geniuses, of course!

Wait, what?

A ghost story and ... whatever that is... are two very different things, and entirely different atmospheres. Duncan tried to link them together, but it just didn't work. It's a shame, because the explanation was pretty awesome; if it hadn't tried to shoehorn in the house legend, it would have worked fairly well.

The ending was not satisfactory either. It ends rather abruptly, and we never see the bad guys get their comeuppance, or even an, "Aha, they live to do it again!" moment. They just kind of... fade away. It's strange how normal they are treated the entire time. There's no big confrontation or conflict, instead, the son literally says, "We're leaving," the mother raises some token protests, and then the fire breaks out. That's it. Rather anticlimactic, wouldn't you say?

Overall, cheesy, yes, but not really satisfying in the end. ( )
  kittyjay | Jan 2, 2016 |
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Suspicious and uneasy about the atmosphere at her new boarding school, fourteen-year-old Kit slowly realizes why she and the other three students at the school were selected.

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Mitjana: (3.82)
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3 26
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4 51
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