cover image The Hysterical Girls of St. Bernadette’s

The Hysterical Girls of St. Bernadette’s

Hanna Alkaf. Salaam Reads, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9458-9

The students of St. Bernadette’s, a 112-year-old premier all-girls school, inexplicably begin to let out terrified, unrelenting screams in this electrifyingly dark thriller set in Kuala Lumpur. Following an undisclosed incident, 16-year-old Khadijah hasn’t spoken in three months and avoids physical touch. Meanwhile, almost-17-year-old Rachel is a top student, but her every move is dictated by her wealthy mother. When teens begin screaming one by one and are unable to stop, officials blame ghosts and mass hysteria. After Khad’s younger sister is beget by the scream—and as those affected begin disappearing—Khad and her friends endeavor to solve the mystery. Rachel soon joins in, and together, the girls learn the truth about their beloved school and the real-life monsters that inhabit it. Over the course of the investigation, Alkaf (Night of the Living Head) gradually unveils details surrounding Khad and Rachel’s pasts. Piercing observations into the teens’ struggles gaining autonomy are explored alongside sensitively wrought instances of trauma and sexual violence via immersive prose peppered with Malay words and phrases. Most characters are Malaysian Muslim. Ages 14–up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary. (Sept.)