Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nightmare Hall: Book of Horrors (Diane Hoh)

Reed is the president of the Victoria McCoy fan club on the Salem University campus. McCoy is the writer in residence and a hugely successful writer of horror novels, many of which were turned into movies. At least they tell us this, but I have my doubts since the club only has a few other members: Debrah, Jude and Lilith.

Her boyfriend Link keeps coming to meetings, primarily to keep an eye on her and barely reads anything. He tells her that McCoy needs a new assistant since hers went missing and Reed decides to go for it. She stops by the writer’s house and after one meeting, gets the job, which makes all her friends jealous.

Jude demands that she pass along some of his writings because he assumes that he’ll be the next huge horror author. Debrah gets pissed, but rarely says anything. And Lilith is insanely pissed, but views it as her chance to put the moves on Link.

Working for the writer is a lot harder than she expected. She has a black bird that looks like a crow, which keeps uttering random words. The author herself stays holed up in her room, listening to music and working on her new novel, leaving Reed all alone. Luckily she has the author’s hot son Rain to keep her company.

Here’s the thing I don’t get. Reed’s main job is answering fan mail. She has a desk, reads the fan letters and writes responses, with Victoria apparently signs later. Yet she’s supposed to be a HUGE star. Wouldn’t she get way more fan mail than one person could handle?

Everyone else acts a little odd because McCoy’s had three assistances and something weird happened to all three. Her latest Carl, went missing. McCoy claimed he told her he was dropping out of school, but no one heard from him and eventually his car turns up abandoned. Another one dropped out of school mysteriously and her first assistant Sunny, turned up dead.

Reed keeps the job though, even after Poe (the bird) follows her on campus and attacks her. Rain asks her on a date and since she has a boyfriend, she asks him to join the group for a party at Nightmare Hall. Then she decides to ride with him and blows Link off. He actually mentions that they’re a couple and she tells him that he should have asked her first then. Me thinks she’s taking lessons from a certain Jessica Wakefield.

McCoy herself is a little weird because she keeps accusing people of stealing from her and says that all her assistants steal things too. Reed finds a first draft of one of her famous books and starts reading it, which is actually a little rude. McCoy catches her, blows up and then completely forgets that the fight happened.

Later Reed suggests inviting the fan club over and McCoy flips out, over people going through her things. She forgets about it and invites the gang over. She thinks Debrah looks suspiciously familiar, but can’t put her finger on it. Then Rain shows up, freaks out over all the people there, but gets over it in about three seconds. What’s up with this family?

Link gets worried about her working there, so he starts showing up to walk her home. I think this is sweet, but she gets annoyed because he’s treating her like a child. She skips out early one night and promptly falls into an old well. Luckily he shows up and saves her life.

A few nights later she starts hearing weird noises from the basement, but thinks that she’s imagining things and that it’s just the old house settling. While checking things out, a stack of bookshelves falls on her and she narrowly escapes. The window was open and she thinks that somebody may have reached inside and pushed over the rickety shelves.

We’re then treated to a random party, where a random girl confronts her. Lindsay warns her to get out and stop working there, before she ends up like her sister Karen. Reed calls Karen, who just warns her to get out. Karen then starts calling constantly and for some reason, Reed never returns her calls. Karen decides to take a three-hour bus trip to Salem, just to warn her in person. Reed heads off to meet her and sees Karen run down by a car. She survives, but in a coma.

Yet Reed STILL refuses to quit. She starts finding slips of paper, with McCoy’s writing. The notes are about people stealing, missing things and threats to call the police. Then she learns that McCoy spent time in a mental hospital and Rain swears it was for exhaustion. Yup, she’s totally a celebrity.

Reed finally decides to quit her job, but when no one answers the phone, she heads out to the house. She hears the weird noises again and ventures into the basement, where she finds the missing assistant. A woman pops up at the top of the stars and as she gets closer, she rips off her wig and reveals herself as Rain.

Apparently Rain wants his mom’s money. In her will, she gave everything to charity, but if she’s incapacitated, he gets control of her estate. After she was hospitalized, she became paranoid about money and started limiting his funds. He planned on making everyone think she was crazy and taking over.

He also wrote a few books, which he planned on releasing under her name. He says that she stopped writing after the hospital. He kept Carl in the basement, slowly letting him starve to death. Once he died, he planned on calling the cops. He also tells Reed that he was in love with Sunny and when he told her, they fought and she died when she fell down and hit her head.

Reed can’t get out because he’s blocking the only exit, so she throws herself on the rickety banister. Somehow the banister breaks and Rain dies, but she survives. The book says that his head gets impaled with a post, but I’m not buying it.

The group decides to keep meeting and Reed sums everything up. Debrah looked familiar because she was spying on the house one day and McCoy caught her. Jude still thinks he’s the shit and Lilith has given up on Link because he and Reed are now madly in love. Oh and McCoy is in California, where she recovered and is now writing again. Go school….


  1. I've been lurking for a while now and wanted to let you know that I've been reading your blog. Your "Nightmare Hall" entries is what got me interested in your blog. Please continue to review these books. I started reading this series because of your blog and I really like reading your point of view. Thanks!

  2. I went to a library sale last month. I found a volume of 'Nightmare Hall' Now I am starting to collect them. Happy to find info on them in this blog.

    1. Glad I could help! I actually loved that series when I was a teen and obsessed with Christopher Pike :)

  3. When I was a kid, this book was my favourite in the Nightmare Hall series xD I dug it so much! But it's so silly the more I think of it and reading this revisitation gave me a good chuckle.

    1. I have to admit that several of the Point Horror/Thriller books gave me nightmares as a kid :)