Monday, June 1, 2015

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Review)

Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Publication.Date  July 22nd 2014
Published By:  Disney Hyperion
AuthorLaurie Faria Stolarz

Welcome to the Dark House on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:,%201

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.


I need to try something else- to learn to live with fear rather than in fear.
"You escape your nightmares when you wake up.''
''Sometimes,' Ivy tells him. "And sometimes they haunt you even when you're awake."

     If you like horror flicks with twisty plot lines and characters that are there just so they can get killed off, you will really like Welcome to the Dark House. Think something along the lines of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream, Saw and House on the Haunted Hill all mashed up together. The book isn't as gore as Saw, obviously (though it does have its fair share of dead bodies), and there are no revenge-seeking ghosts either, but the plot construction and the somewhat stereotypical character cast feels very familiar. Not that it's a bad thing. Not at all. I had plenty of fun reading Welcome to the Dark House and would definitely recommend it to thrill-seeking readers who enjoy darkly entertaining horror stories. 

     A group of seven teenagers gets invited by a famous horror movie director to an exclusive behind-the-scene look at his upcoming project.  The event is top-secret and it takes place in a shut-down amusement park, completely out of nowhere. One contestant is missing, the host couldn't be creepier, and by the time they realize what's at stake, it is way too late for them to get out.

     The leading theme of this book is facing one's worst nightmares. To enter the contest, the kids had to write about their biggest fears and most blood-chilling nightmares. The most horrific ones won. The lead character, Ivy Jensen, shared the story of her parents getting brutally murdered while she was sleeping in the same house. The murderer came after her next, but was scared off by the police seconds before he could finish what he started. He escaped though, and was never caught. And he's been haunting Ivy's dreams ever since. She entered the contest not because she wanted to meet the horror movie legend, but because she was hoping that if she shares her biggest nightmares with someone, she will be able to finally move on and live a normal life.

     This book definitely has a feel of a B-class horror flick and it's constructed as such. It's not a character-driven story, therefore, don't expect the characters to be overly complex or even too sympathetic (like I said, the majority of them serve one purpose and one purpose only - to get murdered in a creative and thrilling way). It's a pretty intense, creepy and entertaining story, but it's not a psychological drama or a very thought-provoking thriller. It's just a really fun and easy read, with plenty of chills and thrills and some really cool plot twists. The kind of story that messes with your head a bit, making you confused, suspicious of everyone and trying to decide if what's happening is real, or just a wicked prank. If you're like me and you like your horror flicks clever and bloody, and cliched in a purposeful kind of way that feels awesome, not awkward - well, you will probably have a great time with this book. It's a well-written, unputdownable, fast-paced and really atmospheric book.

     The ending was pretty great in my opinion. It is a bit of a cliffhanger that you'd see in classic horror stories and it makes you go "awww shit, there will be more!". Marilyn Manson's "Sweet Dreams" song would be the perfect soundtrack to the final scenes for sure. I really can't wait to read the second book in the series and find out what happens next!

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