Friday, August 08, 2014

"Slasher Film" Plus Courage = WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE

Okay, 'fess up: Don't you sometimes feel just a little nervous when you get home alone to a dark house and something feels "funny" about the door, or the streetlight being out, or the light you thought you'd left on for yourself that isn't ... Or maybe for you it's when thieves hit the neighbor's house and you see it in the paper the next day and realize it was the same night you thought something was scratching outside your downstairs window but you couldn't wake up enough to check. Or -- you in the suburbs, maybe that 2 a.m. walk back home on a street you know well, but that suddenly has an eerie side to it?

Now go back 15 years (or 30, or 45), to when you were a teen and had your own particular nightmare, one that lingered maybe from when you'd been little. Something involving the closet, or your parents disappearing? I hope you don't have the real-life horror that Ivy Jensen has lived through as WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE (by Laurie Faria Stolarz) opens: the murder of her parents, in which she actually met the murderer, who called her "Princess" and who could be searching for her or even watching her now.

Ivy's stepping into a reality-show-in-the-making, hosted by horror film director Justin Blake and his creepy Nightmare Elf. Her motive for taking part: She thinks the e-mails she received about the adventure out in the country have promised she'll finally be free of her nightmares. But it turns out all seven of the teens called to the very creepy film set have earned themselves a place through their graphic descriptions of their own nightmares, and ... they are each about to face what they fear most. Alone.

WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE is the first book in a horror series for teens, one that repeatedly refers to slasher films (yep, gratuitous violence, from knife to ax to flesh-eating creatures) and that tilts from one character's point of view to the next, including screenplay segments from would-be filmmaker Parker Bradley, and lustful cheer from Shayla Belmont, not to mention the goofy but dangerous exploits of Garth Vader (care to guess what his dad liked?). And more.

I'm no fan of slasher films, but ... hey, I like this book! Every voice is distinct, every teen suffers from both a "nightmare" and a deep misunderstanding of what the world is going to do for her or him, and there are as many kinds of courage and folly as there are characters. The only down side is, this is the start of a series, and the ending is absolutely a hanging one ... How long do I have to wait for the next book from the amazing Laurie Faria Stolarz? (If you're a teen or purchasing books for teens, check out her website here:

The adventures in this book are NOT what you want in your "how I spent my summer vacation" essay. On the other hand, reading this lively and fast-paced horror mystery is sure to give you fresh perspective on what really happened (or might have)!

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