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The Harrowing    by Alexandra Sokoloff order for
by Alexandra Sokoloff
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Robyn Stone chooses to stay at school for the Thanksgiving holiday rather than go home to her sane, only when medicated, mother. Alone in the ancient dorm at Baird College, she becomes more and more depressed. Her thoughts turn to suicide.

When she wanders downstairs to the lounge with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a full prescription of Valium swiped from her detested roommate, Robyn finds that she is not alone. A motley crew of four students are scattered around the room. Cain is a songwriter and musician; Martin, a scholarly nerd; Lisa, an attention-seeking flirt; and Patrick, a prankster, jock and the boyfriend of her roommate. All find the loneliness of an empty dorm preferable to going home to their dysfunctional families.

Robyn never expects to get to know her unlikely companions, much less to become fond of them, but the long stormy weekend binds them together against a sixth presence at Mendenhall. When the weekend is over, they still don't know whether they are the target of a complicated prank, have conjured up a ghost, or if something else is using their presence and loneliness for its own purposes.

The Harrowing is a memorable ghost story that gets off to a slow start. Robyn's self-pity is becoming a grind when the other characters appear and things get interesting. After that you won't be able to put this gripping page-turner down.

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