First off, I want to send Andye a HUGE thank you for having me here on Reading Teen! Second, I'm going to be reviewing Welcome to the Dark House a little different than normal. I'll be writing a letter to the book, saying what I did/didn't like, similar to how I normally review on my own blog! Be sure to check out more of my review letters at Pivot Book Reviews !
by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Series: Dark House
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (July 22, 2014)
Goodreads | Amazon
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.
Dear Welcome to the Dark House,
I was so excited about you. Extremely excited, in fact. I remember reading your author, Laurie Faria Stolarz's, Blue is for Nightmares series way back in the day, and loving them. Plus, your cover is freak-tastic. I was hoping with all the hopes possible that I had finally found a book to scare the bejeezuz out of me. Nope. Didn't happen. Not even a little bit.
You, Welcome to the Dark House (or WttDH, as you'll be known henceforth, because your name is SO long), are the story surrounding seven somewhat troubled souls who pine after a certain horror director, and upon receiving word of an essay type contest to describe their worst nightmare in 1000 words for the chance to meet said director, jump on the train and pound those words out. The nightmares vary from weird to different to understandable. But this all-inclusive trip to meet Justin Blake and see behind-the-scenes footage of his new secret project is a little too close to real life horror for them, and by the time they realize their lives are at a gamble, they have to play the game if they want to live.
Okay. Sounds like a typical scary movie. One that I'm pretty sure I would watch. I was hooked on your concept, but the way you were delivered? Not at all. I really thought that I could handle reading seven different POV's, but you are just so fast paced, WttDH, that I just couldn't keep up. I found myself reading from a certain character of yours, and then having to turn back the beginning of the chapter where the name was listed, because I had no idea whose POV I was reading from. For the most part, I got about 3/4 of the way through you before I knew who was who, and by that time, well at risk of spoilers, I'll just say it was kind of pointless to know at that point.
If anything, you were quite gruesome. I'll give you that. I cringed at certain parts. You also had some profanity from certain characters. I just never really connected with any of them. The only one I did kind of like reading from was Ivy, who is pretty much the MC of your MCs (if that makes sense), but then there was some insta-love thrown in, and it all felt so rushed. I couldn't take anything seriously. A nightmare elf? Garth Vader as one of your character's names? Seriously? Honestly, I think the only reason I finished you was because I had to find out what the heck was going on and who was going to survive, only to find out that you are a part of a series!! Sorry I'm not sorry I won't be picking up any of your sequels.
I know I sound like I'm dogging you harshly, WttDH, and I feel a bit bad about that, but I can't help the way I feel about you. You just weren't my cup of tea, at all. I know you could've been executed so much better, if only you would've been from less character's POVs. I didn't have enough time to get to know all seven of them to have any empathy for them when they got the axe. (Pardon the pun) Unfortunately, Welcome to the Dark House, you just weren't the book to turn me into a horror genre lover. You had all the ingredients, but ultimately, fell flat.
Sticking to horror movies for now,