Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Series: Dark House, #1
Ivy Jensen has spent the last six years of her life terrified. When she falls asleep, she dreams of the night her parents were murder, the night she was almost murdered herself. But in her nightmares, Ivy doesn’t escape and when she wakes she is filled with certainty that one day her parents’ murderer will find her and finish what he started.
When horror-movie director Justin Blake hosts a contest asking participants to submit their most frightening nightmare for a chance to win a trip to meet him and see a sneak-peak of his new movie, Ivy figures if she can’t beat her fear, she might as well embrace it. For Ivy and the six other winners, the trip seems pretty innocuous at first, save for horror-movie props and villains making surprise appearances, but things take a frightening turn when one of the contestants can’t be found and their nightmares begin to come to life.
“His lips peel open and he smiles at me, his pointed tongue edging out over his jagged, yellow teeth. ‘You knew I’d come back, didn’t you?'”
If you have an aversion to creepy elf dolls, I wouldn’t recommend reading Laurie Faria Stolarz’s Welcome to the Dark House. Filled with images to keep you up at night, this book succeeds at bringing fright to its readers and convincing me that if anyone ever held a contest like this, there is no way I would enter. All the characters have their own demons and fears that manifest in different ways and I really enjoyed reading from each character’s perspective, but with six different points-of-view, it was a times at little too much.
I found Ivy Jensen’s story to be the most compelling and the most terrifying, not just because of what happened to her parents, but because she has been receiving anonymous gifts from someone who knows who she used to be when she was a child…*shudder* Unfortunately, because of the shifting perspectives, I didn’t feel like the book when in depth when it came to Ivy. This also goes for the character Parker Bradley, whom Ivy grows close to. The other characters in the novel have certain insecurities and rocky relationships with the parents, but Parker’s personal story goes unexplored. He is an aspiring film-maker who saw that entering the contest would be a great opportunity for him, but his character lacked the kind of vulnerability seen in the others.