Welcome to the Dark House
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Series: Welcome to the Dark House #1
Publish Date: July 22nd, 2014
Genre: Horror, YA, Thriller, Mystery
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.
This was one of my first times reading a horror YA novel because I’m pretty sure that Mary Downing Hahn doesn’t count (She’s fab). Welcome to the Dark House was decidedly not scary in any way which is a shame because although I don’t like horror, if I’m reading a horror novel, I expect to be scared. The tone of the writing lacked the creep factor that would have made me scared. Instead of actually being terrified, I felt pity for the characters and I’m fairly certain that pity isn’t supposed to be the main emotion felt during horror.
Nonscary factor aside, I actually enjoyed this novel. Although I guessed the purpose of the contest less than a hundred pages in, I found the novel interesting. But by the end, I was kind of disappointed and wished that I had picked a different book to introduce me to the genre (but can you blame me for picking this book based on the cover and synopsis?)
The writing is confusing. It changes between seven different point-of-views and it’s very difficult to distinguish between each one. Many times, I’d be halfway through a chapter in Frankie’s POV and forget that it was him. Even Garth, the guy that’s supposed to be “creepy” and “trouble-making” sounds the same as Ivy, who is the complete opposite.
The characterization is also sloppily done most likely a result of the seven different POVs and the fact that every one sounds exactly the same. It’s shallowly done for some, a little better for others based on what their fear was. But even so, in the end, I felt like I barely knew who they were. I could care less if they died or not.
The plot was slow. Half of the book was spent setting up the contest and foreshadowing the bad events that are to come. However, I feel like Stolarz didn’t utilize this to the best of her ability, evidently seen in the characterization and the lackluster tone. Isn’t the introduction to the action supposed to make the reader feel uneasy? The book just seemed to lack the “umph” factor that would have made the reader scared. And then that ending. What the heck was that ending? It was rushed and squeezed into the last forty pages and a lot happened in those forty pages. The book is obviously set up for a sequel and one that I’m looking forward to reading only so that I can see what happens to the last people standing. I really liked how Stolarz used the seven fear essays as the epilogue even if it also really annoyed me because I wanted to know more.