Review: Welcome to the Dark House


Title: Welcome to the Dark House

Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Goodreads / Author’s website / Author’s twitter

The typography on this one called to me again. It was only after I checked this one out from the library that I realized it was by the same fright-inducing author as Blue is for Nightmares, which haunted me throughout my teen years. I made a stupid decision and read this one anyway.

A brief summary from the author’s website (which, by the way, has a neat gif-version of the cover):

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.

If you imagine touches of And Then There Were None mixed with a contemporary horror movie, that would describe this book fairly well.

It switches perspectives between each of the characters who win a trip to meet Justin Blake, one the most popular horror movie directors in the world. We get a little bit of background on some of the characters beforehand, but most, we only meet once they’re in the Dark House – their vacation-stay reward. I was a little confused trying to get to know each of the characters and their personalities, but maybe that was just because I had to keep taking breaks from the book so I wouldn’t freak myself out, and I kept forgetting who everyone was.

As you might have guessed, their fake-horror trip quickly takes a shift towards real horror. When the characters end up at an abandoned amusement park with instructions to find their own nightmare ride, some take to the challenge with enthusiasm and some begin to worry that maybe this trip isn’t what it seems to be. One of the fun things about the book was trying to figure out – are they still just on their reward? Is all of this fake? Who put together the amusement park and why? Are they in real danger? And if so, how on earth are they going to get out of it?

Honestly, the only reason I’m giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because it gave me nightmares. I don’t like horror novels and this book reminded me why. Still, if you want a good scare, do pick this one up. And according to Goodreads, it’s the first in a series – so you can look forward to that as well (although I won’t, because I’ve scared myself well enough already).

4 out of 5 stars.



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