Friday, April 24, 2015

The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

It’s a rainy, gloomy beginning to Thanksgiving break on the campus of Baird College, now deserted for the duration of the long weekend. Robin Stone, a depressed loner with a severely dysfunctional family, has made the decision to stay alone in musty Mendenhall dormitory for the holiday rather than face her mentally ill mother. She soon discovers, however, that four other students, outsiders like herself, have also decided to hole up in the spooky old converted mansion instead of going home. During a power outage on the stormy first night, while partying and playing with a Ouija board by firelight, the five misfits begin to form a tenuous friendship. And they soon begin to suspect that there is a sixth among them - a former student who died a terrible death in a Mendenhall attic fire in 1920...and is reaching out to them from beyond the grave.

By the time Friday rolls around, I’m usually ready for a good, old-fashioned scary story. Whether I read one or watch one is a tossup. The Harrowing is a quick and riveting read. It is screenwriter Sokoloff’s first novel, and is so visually oriented and filled with imagery that it actually gives the sensation of watching a film. Even though the plot is a classic horror formula, this book gave me chills! The Ouija board sessions are especially hair-raising. If you enjoy this book about college students faced with an unwanted presence, check out Under-ground by Craig Spector. Or, if true ghost stories are more your thing, try America’s Haunted Universities by M. L. Swayne. 

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