Series: Dark House #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 22, 2014
Genres: Horror, Mystery, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
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.
~ After seeing some less than glowing reviews on this book, I was sure I was going to be disappointed. But I wasn’t! I got a well written teen horror, one that had me flipping the pages. Horror isn’t usually a genre that delves into character development, but I got enough sense of who the major players were for book one. Plus, although I’m a book nerd first, I love horror movies and novels, even if they scare the crap out of me. I’m the woman who forces her husband to take her to horror movies and then can’t look at the screen (although I find it’s easier to look if I cover my ears, I’m so susceptible to the scary music).
~ Ivy lives in fear that the man who killed her parents will come back for her. I feel her fear is 100% rational. She still receives anonymous gifts, which she and I both assume are from the killer. She enters the Nightmares Be Gone contest to learn to deal with her fear.
~ One of my favorite parts of the book was reading Justin Blake’s horror movie resume- it made me wish his movies were available to watch.
~ Also a huge fan of the Nightmare Elf’s little rhymes, they’re up there with Freddy Krueger’s “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” ditty.
~ Horror movies and books are why I’m not a fan of camping. Or houses in the middle of the woods. Or attics. Or dolls. Or men with hockey masks on. Or men with knifes for fingers. Or picking up hitchhikers. Or hotel maids who keep fingers in their aprons… the list is pretty long and is being updated all the time.
~ The author definitely captures some creepy moments- Ivy’s memory of her parent’s murder was bone chilling, and who the hell knew I’d be so scared of eels (well, other than the Shrieking Eels from The Princess Bride)?
~ If the Dark House contestants were members of the Breakfast Club, then Natalie would be Ally Sheedy. Other than Ivy, her’s was the story I was most interested in, especially the parts that dealt with her twin, Harris. Her chapters won me over from the start when she mentions that she and her twin brother were the result of her father’s affair with their mother. He’d been married at the time, and had to divorce his wife to marry Nat’s mom. You almost never see this in fiction, although it happens in real life.
~ I also like that Natalie is secretly decorated with tattoos inspired by Justin Blake and his films.
~ Shayla seems like the typical party girl in a slasher film, but the nightmare that gets her into the Dark House is the result of guilt over her best friend’s suicide. She’d be the Molly Ringwald of the Breakfast Club.
~ Garth is a bit of a weirdo too, and I picture him as a very young Jack Black. He’s artistic, but goes around claiming to be able to smell people’s blood types. Which, actually appears to be a real talent. Often resorts to jerk behavior, but he’s a wounded, warped boy.
~ Lots of teen hormones at play- both Frankie and Garth like Layla, and Parker instantly likes Ivy. Better watch out, kids, you know what happens to teens who hook up in horror movies, right?
~ Once the gang is all together in the Dark House, things begin to go south. A creepy message scrawled in the back of the closet is the first sign they should just get the hell out. I would. But then, I wouldn’t have entered the contest in the first place. Which is why I’m still alive.
~ The group (or most of the group) ends up at a amusement park deep in the woods for a private Justin Blake movie screening. Inside there are rides that correspond with their nightmares, which they must ride alone. Can I get a hell no? 😉
~ So, like in a horror movie, things aren’t always what they appear to be. And the ending definitely has me clamoring for the sequel!
Ivy Jensen- contestant #1 and our main character, despite the many shifting povs. Her parents were brutally murdered 6 years ago and she’s the lone survivor.
Justin Blake- horror movie director, his most famous project is The Nightmare Elf, who sounds like a cross between Freddy Krueger and the Leprechaun.
The Nightmare Elf- a doll inhabited by the spirit of a 10 year old boy who likes to make people’s worst nightmares come true.
Natalie Sorrento- contestant #2- the odd one out in her family, may not be all the way sane (but then, who is?).
Shayla Belmont- contestant #3- aspiring actress from Chelsea, she’s got a skeleton in the closet.
Garth Vader- contestant #4- huge horror fan, desperately trying to maintain the image of fearlessness, although it’s clear his dad exposed him to horror way too young.
Taylor- contestant #5- mysterious, likes long walks. 🙂
Parker Bradley- contestant #6- aspiring screenwriter/director, often sees events unfold like a movie to keep himself from being scared.
Frankie Rice- contestant #7- He’s a Virginian, so you know he’s cool. 😉 Still suffering from his mom’s abandonment.
*there are also various family members and staff at Dark House, so I’ve only laid out the key players.
There were a lot (and I took so many notes, people, so many notes) but I really liked reading the contestant’s nightmare entries.
Stop the Clock:
If you’re a fan of horror, than I would recommend this book to you. Despite the large cast, I was able to keep who everyone was easily. I liked the nightmares and personal histories of these characters, and it did the job of scaring me. It gets a high rating from me because I didn’t want to put it down (except in the scary parts). Ivy makes for a good horror movie heroine- much like Sydney from Scream. I am so on board for this series.
Welcome to the Dark House gets a Midnight Book rating of: