Down a Dark Hall

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Down a Dark Hall is a young adult novel by Lois Duncan. Originally published in 1974, it has now been updated for 2011 with some extra lines thrown in about why our intrepid heroine doesn't just use her mobile phone or the internet to summon help.

The story is as follows. Sixteen year old Kathryn 'Kit' Gordy is sent to Blackwood Hall boarding school so her mum and stepdad can go on honeymoon in Europe. Although she finds it creepy Kit has to admit the rooms are luxurious, the food is good and the teachers led by the glamorous Madame Duret are intelligent. Unfortunately Madame Duret is using the four girls who make up the student body as vessels to let the spirits of long dead writers, artists, scientists and musicians continue their work. Kit and her friend Sandy are horrified but Ruth who is a genius is excited by the maths and science she finds herself doing while possessed.

Unfortunately being a medium comes at something of a personal price and when Kit and her teacher Jules (Madame Duret's son) find out what this is they vow to escape...

Tropes used in Down a Dark Hall include:
  • Boarding School of Horrors
  • Fridge Logic The 2011 rewrite establishes that Kit can't get a mobile phone signal in Blackwood Hall itself. This doesn't explain why she doesn't take the phone with her outside and walk until she does get a signal.
  • Parental Abandonment Sandy is an orphan and Kit has both lost her Dad and feels abandoned by her Mother and Dan.
  • Science Is Bad Madame Duret and Professor Farley see the girls as expendable subjects in important research. Also Ruth is happy to be used by the dead to make scientific breakthroughs until she finds out what's going to happen to her.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land If Kit and Sandy can't escape by Christmas the ghosts will be able to use them anywhere and not just at Blackwood. Even if Kit goes home she'll still be driven mad by the dead.
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