Oct 10, 2018

Review--Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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.

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Welcome to the Dark House was just the kind of creeptacular read I was looking for! I read her Blue is for Nightmares series once upon a time ago and was quick to fall in love with that and have had her other books on my TBR pile for ages! Well, this October I was determined to read one of her books and chose this duology and it was the best decision ever!

The book is told through six different points of view of six teenagers who won a contest from a famous movie producer, Justin Blake, who makes scary movies. They were to write an essay about their worst nightmares and the winners would get to a weekend getaway that would allow them to get a sneak peek at his next movie.

Ivy Jensen was never much of a horror movie fan, but six years ago her parents were murdered in their house with her right across the hall. She saw the killer, he spoke to her, and then the police showed up and he vanished. She’s been having the same nightmare over and over all these years. She only entered his contest in hopes that by writing about her nightmare, she’d be releasing it and never have to think about it again.

When the teens show up to the B&B that was formatted especially for them and Justin’s movies things are a little off. One of them happens to go for a walk and never returns. Then the housekeeper just vanishes hours later and soon they find a cryptic message in the back of the closet of the missing girl. But the teens, Natalie, Shayla, Garth, Parker, and Frankie all think it’s a part of the “game.” Ivy is the only one who’s a bit more fearful about the going-ons of the house.

Soon the group finds themselves trapped in a horror amusement park where they are all forced to face their fears. If they don’t, then they will be stuck inside the park forever.

This book, this book was super creepy and bizarre and I LOVED it! A lot of weird things were happening and it just made you totally discombobulated. You never knew what was real or fake. Who is the mysterious person that brought them all together? Their enemy is never clear because there are so many fabrications of the moviemaker’s monster villains all throughout the park. Everyone is convinced that it’s just a game.

The book gets told from all six of the teenagers, we’re able to see what happens to each of them and experience those things as they happen. We don’t know what happened to the seventh “lucky winner” as she never really makes an appearance on the scene. Our main characters though are Ivy and Parker, as the description leads you to believe. Garth is more of the ultimate horror fanboy of Justin and is really into the whole game or whatever it is that’s happening. But the description kind of led me to believe he’d be more of a key player when he wasn’t all that much of one.

Time with each of these characters is divided most equally for the most part. And even after that whopper of an ending, I am not totally convinced of what I read. I’m left questioning everything and I believe that was Laurie’s intent! Needless to say that I am extremely happy that I waited to read this one when the series was completed! 

There was just the tiniest bit of romance between Ivy and Parker. It felt a little unnecessary too given the situation. I mean they’re falling for each other after a day! I know that’s typical in most YA books and even some adult books, but it kind of had me rolling my eyes. But it does sound like something to expect from a horror movie involving guys and girls.

While things end pretty cliffhangery I feel like it’s kind of fitting. I’m not a horror movie buff myself, but I feel like I’ve heard that some of those movies ended in a way that left you thinking it wasn’t over despite the end credits rolling. Given that these movies had multiple sequels that pretty much makes me feel like it a perfect way to end this one!

Welcome to the Dark House is the perfect horror read for Halloween or any time of year really! It’s not a gore-fest, but it’s definitely an eerie read that will keep you on your toes and guessing everything that might happen or already happened! It’s a book that will have you second guessing your bookish instincts and I positively loved it! Cannot wait to start the sequel!!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars


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