Title: Welcome to the Dark House
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Series: Dark House #1
Release Date: July 22nd 2014
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
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.
Welcome to the Dark House is a psychological thriller in which Laurie Faria Stolarz cleverly uses themes from modern horror films to maintain the tense atmosphere of the story. Any film fan will immediately recognise the similarities to The Cabin in the Woods and Child’s Play, as well as the home-video style footage, made popular by films such as Paranormal Activity.
There are definitely parts of the story which are predictable, but whether this too is a deliberate choice by the author to pay homage to the cinematic genre, could be suggested. This, however, does not spoil Laurie Faria Stolarz’s storytelling and Welcome to the Dark House succeeds in drawing its reader in. This is mainly because the story is built around the fears of the characters, but each of them suffer from nightmares with common subjects which can reoccur for any of us, for example drowning and being buried alive.
The group of young people sharing the Justin Blake experience is an eclectic one. Ivy is living under an assumed identity, hiding from the man who killed her parents. Parker is a wannabee film-maker. Natalie is an obsessive fan of Justin Blake’s, tattooed with characters from his films. Shayla is still grieving after discovering her best friend hanged. Garth is a troubled character, convinced he can smell a blood-type. Frankie is loyal, romantic and scared . . . And Taylor is missing!
The narrative switches quickly between theses different characters, with no warning or introduction and at times this can be difficult to follow. Parker’s is probably the only ‘voice’ which can easily be distinguished from the others because of the way he sees events as a director would,
“ANGLE ON GIRL
Girl, 18 ish, sits on her bed, looking down at her hand. There’s a tiny bottle between her fingers, hanging from a silver chain.
CLOSER ON GIRL’S FACE
Dark brown eyes, angled cheeks, pale full lips, pointed chin. She’s way to beautiful to be real.”
Although Welcome to the Dark House is a horror, Laurie Faria Stolarz does not feel the need to be graphic in her descriptions. We are given just enough information for our imaginations to take over, though often this results in a reader being more scared!
As the first of a series, the story does end in a cliffhanger and it is one which left me disappointed that I might have to wait a year for the sequel!
Welcome to the Dark House is not a book which will not be enjoyed by everyone, but will suit fans of horror, thrillers and mysteries and I would recommend it!