Lois Duncan – Teen Horror Queen

Cover of "Down a Dark Hall"

Cover of Down a Dark Hall

I decided to revisit one of my favourite teen horror authors.  Lois Duncan is the author of classics such as I know what you did last summer and Killing Mr. Griffin.  I remember sitting in my school library during silent reading time in year 7 reading her terrifying tales whilst my peers were doing anything but reading around me.

I recently read Down a Dark Hall, which to my surprise was first published in 1974 and could easily be relevant to modern day teens.  It is quite an interesting story with a few creepy scenes that are well written.  4 girls are selected to attend a boarding school where spirits are able to channel talents (e.g. composing music, writing poetry, painting) through their bodies.  Emily Bronte & Schubert are amongst the spirits who use the girls to complete unfinished work.  It would be amazing if that could actually happen. Imagine what other stories and music would have been created if people lived longer back in those days.

I also read Summer of Fear which was a more typical teen horror story.  A strange cousin (Julia) whose parents died in a car crash comes to live with Rachel and her family.  Julia begins to take over Rachel’s life (stealing her friends, boyfriend, clothes) until Rachel suspects that Julia is actually a witch up to no good.  Although I probably would have appreciated this story a lot more as a teenager it was still engaging and show cased  Duncan’s ability to make even the ridiculous of situations seem plausible.

I will be on the look out for more of Lois Duncan books in second hand book stores as I believe that she can teach me a lot about suspense writing.  She sold her first story at the age of 13!

Cover of "Summer of Fear"

Cover of Summer of Fear