Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Possessions is the creepy version of Mean Girls. (That’s a compliment.)
Lindsay is starting school at Marlwood, a private school in middle-of-nowhere California. She’s coming into the semester late, but the goal is to start fresh. While at her old school Lindsay was one of the cool kids. She vied for the Queen Bee’s attention and got it. Being a part of that group meant following the leader, being cruel to others and enduring taunting and pranks. Shortly after Lindsay’s mom died, the Queen Bee stole Lindsay’s boyfriend. And she lost it. Lindsay had a full mental breakdown. Marlwood is her chance to start over where no one knows she went a little crazy. She goes in saying she’s not going to be a part of any clique this time. She knows how badly it can hurt.
But then she meets Mandy. She knows she’s up to no good, and just like the Queen Bee at her old school, but she’s friendly and Lindsay finds herself playing along a bit more. She doesn’t participate in anything, but tags along. Mandy’s pranks get darker and darker. Lindsay pulls away, which makes her more of a target.
The stories say Marlwood is haunted. Mandy propagates these stories, by telling everyone that the school was formerly an insane asylum for wayward girls. It burned down, she says. And while all the other girls joke about it, Lindsay is seeing ghosts. Something or someone climbs on her chest at night. She sees the same terrifying face in windows and mirrors. And after they discover an old skull diagrammed for lobotomies, she’s officially freaked. Then she catches Mandy talking to herself in two voices. She’s talking about killing someone and how it will solve all her problems.
The beauty of Possessions is you’re never quite sure if Lindsay is losing her mind or if there really are ghosts taking over. She’s not sure. She wants to think it’s all an elaborate hoax, because Mandy and her group play mean jokes all the time. She sounds crazy telling her roommate she thinks Mandy is evil and is going to try and kill someone. But is she right?
The best endorsement I can give to Possessions is to say I had to stop reading with 50 pages left. Normally, that would be a bad thing, but it was late, dark and there were creepy shadows in my hotel room as I was reading Possessions, and I knew things were about to get super creepy (attic! 1800s wheelchair! voices!). It was too creepy. I devoured it the next day. The first part of the book is fairly light on the scary side, but after trips to the attic and “operating theater” (as in “boys, watch while we perform a lobotomy on this girl”) it gets darker and you’ll be waiting for the spook factor.
The ending left me with more questions (the epilogue helps), but will certainly drive me to pick up the next book in the series. Also, for those of you who enjoy a good turn of phrase, you’ll enjoy Nancy Holder’s writing. For example, the opening line of the book sets the tone for beautiful and dark: “Fog had crawled up the mountain, like a wounded animal on pine-tree claws, and bled all over the campus.”
Sexual content: Kissing