Monday, August 11, 2014

ARC Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
368 Pages

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.

Horror is such a hard genre to write, I feel. It takes timing and precision, along with just enough detail and imagination to pull it off. And then there are the characters – you need a hero to root for. Welcome to the Dark House took nightmares and made them real. And while some of the descriptions and scenarios definitely had the creep factor, it was lacking in character connections and a decent wrap up. 

Fans of horror master Justin Blake were asked to submit an essay telling him about their worst nightmare. From the entries, seven were picked to fly out and meet Justin Blake on location and get a sneak peek at his new movie – once they survive the Dark House. Our participants: Ivy, Parker, Garth, Shayla, Frankie, Natalie and Taylor. However, once they arrive, they realize things aren’t exactly what they seem.

I read this book in an eformat that was horrible. Going in I didn’t know that it was a multiple POV book and the copy that I had never alerted me when the change happened. I spent most of the book trying to figure out whose POV I was reading.  The fact that most of the characters were one dimensional, lacking any real characteristics, made it hard to keep them straight. It was fairly obvious from the beginning that Ivy was a protagonist, even though her voice got lost in the jumble a few times. Ivy was different from the rest because she wasn’t a fan of Blake’s. She was there for a completely different reason. She makes a connection with Parker and they become our hero/heroine mix. 

The climax of the story is when our characters enter a carnival built on their nightmares. In order to survive, each person must brave a ride tailored to his or her own fear. The fear sequences here were, in my opinion, the best part of the book. They were creepy with that nice shadow of a nightmare hanging over it. But the ending left me with too many questions.

What makes a good horror story ending is that moment when it all comes together and you realize why everything is happening and how it’s connected to the characters. I didn’t get that here. Now when I started this book I didn’t know it was going to be a series, but even after knowing that now, I still think Dark House needed a more rounded out ending. Why were they picked? Why did this happen to just them? Who is behind this, because it obviously wasn’t Blake? Where did Taylor go and why did she call them? Just why?

Even horror series have cohesive endings and this was lacking. I will read the second one mainly just to get some answers.
I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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