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Literature / Nightmare Hall

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On a hill overlooking Salem University is the off-campus dormitory Nightingale Hall, an old, red-brick building which is only half full when the new semester starts, even though rent is cheap. This is due to all the frightening stories told about what is aptly dubbed "Nightmare Hall" by many of the students, ever since a young woman committed suicide by hanging herself.

Nightmare Hall is a twenty-nine book horror series published under Scholastic's "Point Horror" line and written by Diane Hoh from 1993 to 1995. Every book takes place on Salem University's campus, and the degree to which Nightmare Hall is actually featured varies from book to book. Whether the dormitory is itself the cause of the frequent murders that occur at the university is never fully explained, but its dreary influence is felt in almost every incident.


This series contains examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The Biker.
  • Antagonistic Offspring:
    • Subverted in Dark Moon. Serena's mother died of a heart attack, but Serena is convinced she did it via some strange power from the moon.
    • Played straight in Book of Horrors, where Rain is trying to gaslight his mother and frame her for several murders to get her money.
  • Asshole Victim: Aaron Pruitt in The Biker. He lets Echo Glenn believe he's the Mad Biker who is terrorizing Salem for the purpose of making her be his girlfriend. Echo is justifiably outraged when Pruitt admits he was lying, but even after learning he was somewhat responsible for the death of Deejay's brother, Echo still believed he didn't deserve to die.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Dark Moon is loaded with sinister moon imagery as the killer believes the moon is their friend and grants them special powers. It doesn't, and this assumption leads to her death.
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  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Wish.
  • Berserk Button: Arthur's weight in Captives. He once beat up a group of young children when they made fun of him, and killed Dr. Milton Leo when Leo suggested Arthur go on a diet.
  • Broken Bird: Echo Glenn in The Biker as a result of her parents abandoning her to start new families, and Katie Sullivan in Guilty after her loving boyfriend died.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In The Whisperer a young woman starts getting harassing phone calls after she cheats on an important test.
  • Clear My Name: Kidnapped features Nora, a woman who has to prove she's not responsible for kidnapping a little girl whom she looks after.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In The Voice In The Mirror, Lisbet's full name is Elisabeth Wicker, meaning she has the same initials as Elyse Weldon, the girl the killer murdered the previous year. This makes the threatening message given to Lisbet, "E.W. YOU ARE DEAD," work since the killer is hallucinating Lisbet is Elyse.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Rain in Book of Horrors briefly dresses like his mother to confuse Reed. It turns out he can also mimic her voice near perfectly.
  • Demonic Dummy: Ingeniously played with in The Dummy, where the titular doll is actually a rather short young woman asked to pose as a dummy for a Halloween party.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In The Coffin, Tanner Leo is targeted by a psychopath who wishes to torment her psychologist father. She's then sealed inside her father's soundproof music room while he's away, and if she acts up she gets locked inside a sound-proof box similar to a coffin.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The killer in The Voice In The Mirror is only interested in killing whoever his fractured mind is telling him is the deceased Elyse Weldon, and argues with his split personality he is vehemently against hurting anyone else.
  • Frame-Up: The Biker was a gambit to frame Aaron Pruitt as "The Mad Biker" as revenge for indirectly killing someone in the past, while Book of Horrors had Rain setting his mother up to look like an insane killer so he could get control of her money.
  • Gaslighting: Last Breath and Book of Horrors.
  • Honor Before Reason: Subverted. Echo doesn't let Deejay die despite all she's done to frame Aaron Pruitt, but is smart enough to knock her out before Deejay can kill her too.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The Dummy takes place on Halloween and Voice in the Mirror during the holiday season.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Guilty, where Kit Sullivan's best friend killed her boyfriend because he thought Kit belonged to him. But when Kit's trauma over Brownie's death led to a personality overhaul and she starts calling herself "Katie," said best friend interprets this as Katie "Killing Kit" and thus wants to kill her too.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Though, it's more a case that diminutive Fiona wanted to be a part of Jaye Bishop's friends.
  • Jerkass: School psychologist Dr. Milton Leo, who is frequently compared to a cold fish. He gets killed in Captives.
  • Loners Are Freaks: This is the image Echo Glenn is forced to deal with in The Biker.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Kidnapped.
  • Lovable Academic Alpha Bitch: Eve Forsythe, but upon learning this is how people see her, she's not happy about it.
  • Loving a Shadow: Guilty, where the killer's actual motive for wanting Katie Sullivan dead is for killing the old her, Kit.
  • Lunacy: The killer in Dark Moon believes they gained special powers from the moon due to a number of contrived circumstances around their mom's death.
  • Mad Artist: Deadly Visions focuses on a girl who realizes the paintings made by a local artist are hidden several disturbing messages.
  • Magic Mirror: Averted. The killer in The Voice In The Mirror is only hallucinating a voice coming from different mirrors, telling him the girl he killed to steal a scholarship faked her death and is masquerading as different girls close to him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Aaron Pruitt and Deejay Cutter. Both in the same book!
  • My Beloved Smother: Eve Forsythe's mother Nell from Dark Moon. Despite being The Ghost most of Eve's actions are based around her fear of what her mother would do if she found out. She decides Nell's anger is nothing compared to almost being killed.
  • Never My Fault: The killer in Captives, though in a very convoluted sense. He killed Dr. Leo after Leo suggested that he go on a diet. He's been targeting the girls who took shelter in Nightmare Hall because he was afraid they would blow his hiding spot and infringed on his squatter's rights.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Reed Monroe and the Victoria McCoy fan club. Reed is all kinds of excited to get a chance to explore the dark side of life when she starts working as McCoy's assistant. That is, until someone starts reenacting the plots of McCoy's books.
  • Parental Abandonment: Echo Glen's parents got divorced and married other people, and Echo got dumped with her grandparents so her mom and dad could start new families.
  • Red Herring: A lot.
  • Revenge: In the aptly titled Revenge, which is loaded with revenge-themed tropes.
  • Rich Bitch: Deejay, Ruthanne, and Marilyn in The Biker. Two out of three of them mellow a little. The other is the Mad Biker.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Voice In The Mirror, where the killer's been hallucinating that a girl he murdered has come back for revenge and that his reflection's telling him to kill again before she succeeds.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: In Book of Horrors, Jude is insistent that Reed show Victoria McCoy his manuscripts, as he believes he's the next big horror author after her.
  • The Sociopath
  • Super OCD: Pretty Please and Dark Moon.
  • Teens Are Monsters
  • That Man Is Dead: Studious and fun to be with Kit Sullivan turns into hard partying and reckless Katie Sullivan after her boyfriend drowns in Guilty. This is what drives her best friend to try and murder her, because he already killed her boyfriend to get her, and then she "died" and Katie "replaced her."
  • Yandere: The Dummy gives us Caroline, who has a history of going to extreme measures to steal boys from other girls, including murder. In high school she orchestrated a classmate's death to get a guy, then dumped him when she figured he wasn't good enough if he got over his ex so quickly.


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