PHBC: Nightmare Hall – The Silent Scream by Diane Hoh

310894What’s it all about?

Jess Vogt is a freshman at Salem University but quickly discovers her off-campus house, Nightingale Hall, was the scene of a tragic suicide the previous summer. What’s worse, Jess starts to believe her purple room which is purple may be haunted by dear, departed Giselle – not the supermodel.

And…

Jess starts to question if Giselle’s suicide was even a suicide at all. That’s right…Jess thinks Giselle was murdered! I KNOW!

The Girl

I think it’s important we try to understand Jess. By that I mean HOW THE HELL DO YOU PRONOUNCE HER NAME? Does it rhyme with yacht? Does it rhyme with yoghurt? Is it like Voight?

Jess is one of the better PH girls. She has a wry sense of humour and loves pizza. While not especially complex, we get the sense Jess is independent and laid-back. Certainly not the most irritating character we’ve met. Although she does have ‘navy blue eyes’…REALLY?

The Love Interest

This month the honours go to photographer/fishing enthusiast Ian Banion and his early top-knot. As Ian’s also a suspect he’s frustratingly vague, but you can’t knock a guy who takes you out for a Chinese every once in a while.

The Gang

As The Silent Scream is basically a whodunnit, we have a classic rag-tag bunch of housemate subjects.

As a side note – with the exception of Dee in The Forbidden Game have we read ANY other characters of colour? The large cast of TSS really highlights how hideously white the Point Horror world really is.

Back to this lot. We have rich boy Jon; uptight, bitchy Cath (‘Those suits are the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. Even on people with good figures’); possibly trans Linda; poetic Milo and charismatic handyman Trucker.

Even without reading the book, you can guess who the killer is from the list, right?

0bc5c24149470157339889aebfd915beFashion Faux Pas

In a new category for November, let’s check out those fashions!

Jess sports khaki shorts and sandals not to mention a curious I IS A COLLEGE FRESHMAN sweater that almost made me hate her. Ian, although apparently heterosexual does sport ‘faded denim cut-offs’. Cath and Jon win for their preppy ensembles: ‘perfectly creased, navy blue slacks’. Nice.

However, lets take a moment to envisage Cath’s ball dress: ‘Cath’s dress was like a pale blue cloud’.

Dialogue Disasters

Ian: ‘Nice smile.’ I SO wish Jess and replied ‘I’ll give you the number of my dentist.’

Jon. Poor Jon. Although Jon is meant to be cheesy so Hoh knows what she’s doing. ‘I was too busy having a great dream about Kim Basinger’

‘After all, my major is parties, sports…and women.’ Jon’s Salem’s Dapper Laughs.

Milo: ‘I’ve written some of my best poetry while I was sitting on the riverbank, fishing.’ Well haven’t we all?

Some Mild Peril

TSS is a game of two halves. The supernatural stuff is genuinely chilling. We all KNOW there is nothing scarier than ghost photography and Giselle appearing in Jess’s passport photos gave me the willies (quiet at the back). The dips in temperature and nightmarish visions are effective. I’m even OK with the slightly hokey ending.

Where it’s less good is the standard PH fair of ripped up swimming costumes, missing essays and (most stupidly) worms in a drawer. How does a worm crawl up your arm? ANSWER ME THAT?

Body Count: 2

Is It Any Good?

I really enjoyed TSS, far more than I thought I would and much more than our last Hoh offering, The Funhouse. Tellingly, I really want to order a load more Nightmare Hall outings as I seem to remember they all vaguely linked back to TSS in some way. I definitely read The Scream Team and The Wish back in the day.

The only critique is that the killer is so obvious. No amount of casting suspicion on Milo made me think for a second it was anyone other than the real killer. For me, I would have made Ian the killer. Or Linda could have revealed she was Giselle’s BF before her transition. That would have been perfect.

Over to you

Q – Did Giselle push Mrs Coates down the stairs? If so, why?

Q – What does Linda see in Milo? What does Jon see in Cath?

Q – What precisely do you think went down between Giselle and Milo in the past?

POINT HORROR BOOK CLUB will return in 2015…

 

Why I Charge For School Visits

Hiya! I am troubled by a thing, so I’m a-gonna write a little blog about it. It’s not a rant. I’m calm, I promise. *Rubs rose petals against cheek demurely*

I *love* doing school visits. They break up the week, the get me out of the flat, I get to work with young adults who are inspirational and often hilarious. I also love doing school visits because they supplement what I earn for my writing, enabling me to buy fripperies such as food and warm clothes. I don’t wanna sound like a buttmunch (no-one likes a buttmunch) but I like to think I am good at school visits too.

Now while 95% of schools and librarians I work with are a *dream* to work with, today a school approached me to do a visit and then pulled out when I told them my (perfectly reasonable I add) fee because “we can get someone for free.”

*Takes soothing breath*

Now, clearly I’m not starving. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time – for now – but the money I earn from school visits is a very welcome bonus. I know a lot of writers *depend* on this additional income. Let’s face it, there’s only one author on JK Rowling money, and that’s JK Rowling. Advances, in the most part, are not enough to live on.

The way I see it, on a normal working day I’m either writing, researching or editing. If I take a school visit that’s essentially a day off work. Like most working people, I can’t really afford to have a day off work. The sooner I get stuff written, the faster I get paid by my publisher.

Initially I really *wanted* to be able to do school visits for free because I love them and enjoy them, but I simply can’t afford to. I think IF the day comes when I could afford to, I wouldn’t, because I don’t ever want to undercut the authors who rely on this income. Good lord, if I’m ever one of the lucky few who can afford to do events for free, I shall still change and donate my fee to the wonderful First Story.

Some people will no doubt be saying, “what about book sales on a school visit?” Well. In some schools you can shift a lot of books, but that rather depends on how much money the pupils have to spend doesn’t it. Some kids don’t have £6.99 to spend and I wouldn’t want to do a HARD SELL school visit in order to make it worthwhile. Furthermore, even if I moved a hundred books at every visit, royalties would take YEARS to find their way back to me (if they ever did at all).

So it would be disingenuous of me to say I wish I could do school visits for free, because I think writers should be treated like any other freelancer. No-one expects a plumber to come out to a school for free.

I’ll always be a teacher at heart and I KNOW the impossible budget constraints of working in schools and I sympathise, but I do have to charge for visits. I hope teachers and librarians think I’m worth it *Loreal hair flip*.

And as for authors. Be neighbourly. Don’t undercut your fellow authors in the name of self-promotion. That shit be shade.