Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Goodreads Summary:

What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

Publication: July 22, 2014

Welcome to the Dark House was a pleasant surprise. Young adult horror books are usually hit or miss for me and I was excited that I ended up liking this novel much more than I expected. It actually reminded me a little bit of Ten by Gretchen McNeill—another YA horror book I enjoyed.

The beginning of the book was very scary. Ivy’s nightmares were disturbing and I felt for her as she revealed the horrors she had been through. It was a great start because I could feel the dread building as I continued to read.

I liked most of the characters and it was fun to see all of the contestants’ unique personalities clash or bond when they came together. Garth Vader (gotta love that name) was a scene-stealer and I loved the sweet earnestness of Ivy’s love interest Parker.

The POV switches made me confused often. I was reading an ARC, so I’m assuming the final copy will be labeled with the character’s name at the chapter start to prevent the reader from having to figure out exactly who was narrating. All of the contestants have their own chapters and I found it to be a little overkill. I would’ve preferred the story to be only told from Ivy’s, Parker’s, and Garth’s point of view.

The scares were good, but not anything I couldn’t stomach (I’m more of a horror-lite reader). The Nightmare Elf wasn’t very scary to me. For some reason, I ended up picturing him looking like Link from The Legend of Zelda games and couldn’t get the image out of my head and it took away from his creepiness factor.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to fans of teen horror. The finale was open-ended enough that I’m hoping there will be a follow-up to give the plot more closure.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review!

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