Dark Academia Square: The fictional Salem University only has the one accursed dorm, but it inspired 29 books of chills in the mid '90s.
The first of a teen thriller/horror series that completely missed my radar back in the day, but is a perfect fit for the season.
Jesse is excited to begin college and, as a freshman, was eligible to be a 'monitor' (RA?) of Nightingale Hall, the off-campus house where she and five other freshman will spend the year. Little does she know that it was a tragedy last spring, the suspicious death of a bright young coed, that meant only freshman who didn't know any better applied to live there.
The house is described as a three story brick house, with spacious formal rooms and a kitchen downstairs and bedrooms on the second floor. The third floor presumably housed the chaperone, who falls down the stairs early in the book and leaves our youngsters alone in the house for most of the semester.
It is not as diverse a group of students as I would have expected, but this was the '90s and only white kids were allowed into Salem University at the time apparently. Of the seven students we have our heroine Jesse who is pretty, but can't afford day-glo clothes like some people, the rich playboy with a beemer, the beautiful overachiever, the loner poet, the girl with the athletic scholarship who loves him, the almost-too-handsome Ian (no other character traits so I had to give him his name) and the nominal adult handyman who lives over the garage and takes night courses.
There are supernatural elements that defy explanation - shredded swimsuits and shattered glass, etc. - but this is mostly a straight-forward teen thriller about abusive boyfriends (they're ALL about abusive boyfriends) and whether or not Ian will invite Jesse to the Fall Ball.
This had some fun nostalgic elements that reminded me a bit about college - the textbook bill though, urgh - and would have appealed to the young readers who could fantasize about their own "grown-up" college days to come.
As a bonus, 'Nightmare Hall', like early V.C. Andrews books, had die-cut covers that hinted at a cool frontispiece. Poor blonde Giselle lies face-down in her lavender bedroom, that day-glo yellow halter top couldn't save her.
Next: 'The Roommate'