Categories
Point Horror

Nightmare Hall #15: Truth or Die

By Diane Hoh.

Parrie was a sheep at high school. Following the crowd at least meant she always had friends. But she’s been at Salem Uni for a few weeks now, and she’s still looking for a new herd to follow. When she gets chatting to a group of girls at a freshers’ tea party, things seem to be looking up. They’re a mixed bag: abrasive Carol, blunt Lil and frosty Jean – she could live without. But quiet Mallory and friendly Grace seem like her kind of people. Still, they could easily have drifted their separate ways after the party, if it wasn’t for Carol’s suggestion that they get together for a game of Truth or Dare. It all sounds a bit weird – each of them writing down their deepest, darkest secret on a slip of paper, putting them all in a lock-box and risking their truth being exposed if they renege on their allocated dare – but Parrie desperately wants to be part of the crowd, so she goes along with it.

And her fears initially seem unfounded. The girls all carry out their silly, harmless pranks, and Parrie meets a cute guy in the act of doing hers. But then Carol insists on another round, and this time the dares are meaner and riskier. When Grace almost dies doing hers, Parrie insists it’s time to stop, but the others won’t give up. Whilst the girls engage in increasingly dangerous stunts to avoid their secrets being revealed, they are propelled towards the revelation of a terrible truth; one which threatens to consume them all.

Truth or Die is less a ‘whodunit?’ and more a ‘what happened?’, especially when it becomes clear that the danger is in the ‘truth’ rather than the ‘dare’. With six girls in the group, there’s often too great a focus on character rather than plot, and yet, I was still struggling to remember who a couple of them were by the end (including the eventual perpetrator, which doesn’t help). The big reveal has credibility issues, and whilst it in fact touches on something really awful, the horror potential of that tragedy is never fully explored. It’s a middle-of-the-road entry, which is a shame, because from what I’ve been able to ascertain, it’s the last Nightmare Hall to be published in the UK.

5/10

Fear Factor

More mystery than horror, and very light on the scares. One creepy phone call; one (maybe two) nightmares; a carbon-monoxide filled garage; a questionable ghost. Possibly the least scary of all the Nightmare Hall entries.

2/10

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