Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Source: Hardcover and eARC provided by NetGalley
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
Seven teenagers are chosen as winners in an essay contest based on the fims of Justin Blake, best known for his Nightmare Elf horror movies. They all enter for their own reasons, but most are huge fans of Blake's work, so they jump at the chance to meet the man himself. This contest asks them to describe their worst nightmare, and winning means that they will get a chance to face it head on. Most people wouldn't even think of doing this, but horror fans are not like most people. This is a chance to be truly scared by a film icon.
As the winners arrive by hearst to a Bed & Breakfast modeled to look like the settings of Blake's movies, they get to know each other and have fun playing with props from the movies, gorging on horror themed meals and doing their best to scare each other. As the night goes on, the mood in the house changes. Something doesn't seem quite right about the place. There's also the fact that one of the seven winners has gone missing and she left behind a frightening message. As true horror fans, they figure it's all part of the experience. All they have to do is enjoy their prize, wait until morining, face their worst fears and meet the man behind it all.
The next day, they are taken to an abandoned amusement park that has been set up just for them. They are given free rein of the place, the games, the rides, the food...but the gates are locked and grotesque scenes from Blake's movies play on screens placed everywhere. They are informed that the only way out is to face their nightmares. The merriment quickly morphs into dread as the Nightmare Elf terrorizes them throughout the park, claiming victims by the hour. If anyone survives, there is always the sequel...
Welcome to the Dark House is a really fun and campy book that fans of 90s horror movies (Scream, Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer) or B-movie horror/slasher flicks will enjoy. It's told from six different perspectives, but one of them, Ivy, is decidedly the central character of the story. Ivy is kind of the "Sidney" of this story (Neve Campbell in the Scream movies).
Ivy isn't even a fan of horror and has never seen any of Justin Blake's movies. She actually hates scary things because her life is worse than anything on the big screen. Her parents were murdered when she was younger, while she was in the house. She saw the face of the killer and that face haunts her nightmares. She entered this contest because she wanted to face her fears and meet people who enjoy watching horror movies, thinking she could learn something from them. There is a lot more from Ivy's POV, but you definitely get to go inside the heads of the other characters. The first half of the book is setting up the story and meeting the contest winners. I wish there could have been a little bit more suspense or a few more scares in the first half of the book, but it's more than made up for in the second half. There is a lot of blood and it gets pretty disturbing. The idea of a Nighhtmare Elf totally creeped me out because it reminded me of those freaky Elf on the Shelf things...
The only drawback about this book (which isn't really a dreawback) is the WICKED cliffhanger ending that literally made me scream because now I have to wait until next year for a sequel!
I should have known. I've read Laurie Faria Stolarz's Blue is for Nightmares series, so I should have expected the cliffhanger. Welcome to the Dark House is fast paced and it reads like a movie. Actually, it would make an awesome movie. This was actually my Halloween read, and I picked a perfect book for the occasion. I really enjoyed it and I want more.