Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

welcome-to-the-dark-houseBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Hyperion, 2014
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 357 pages ; 22 cm
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: 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. Not everyone is so charming, though.  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.  Adapted and retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18459190-welcome-to-the-dark-house
  • ISBN: 978-1-42318-172-9
  • Subjects:
    • Juvenile psychology – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation:   What was I thinking?  I should have stayed home and not answered that sick elf’s mail.

Plot Summary: Ivy survived the slaughter of her family by a serial killer when she was around ten years old and she’s lived with the fear that he will come back to finish the job.  Now, happily ensconced in a new family with a new name, she finds herself invited to participate in a contest that requires each contestant to submit an essay about their worst nightmares.  Seven winners are chosen to attend a weekend at the Dark House where they would met a notorious horror movie director named Justin Blake.  There Ivy meets an assortment of other kids all of whom have had some kind of trauma in their lives and who are a bit on the odd side.  In the manner of all ‘teen slasher’ offerings the kids disappear one by one until only Ivy and a boy name Parker remain.  What happened to the others and who is behind it all is a mystery that needs to be solved before either of them can go free.

Critical Evaluation:  I’ve always like horror stories but I’ve never like that particular sub-section of the genre that focuses on the abuse and murder of teenagers in what are generally obscenely violent ways.  And while this book is not graphic in nature, the sense is that these kids, some of whom are really annoying (also a trend in this kind of story), do meet a grisly and generally undeserved fate.  The author has drawn on many classic movie ideas to create her story and she has populated it with the required assortment of both boys and girls but frankly, they are interchangeable in terms of character development.  We learn about their back stories in first person chapters each told from the point of view of a particular individual.  Despite the way she sets each chapter up, you don’t really get a good feel for who the characters are as individuals.  They all tend to blur together, expect for Shayla who is without a doubt written to be the most annoying and shallow characters in the books.  She stands out only because she was so irritating, not because her character is well defined or fleshed out.

While the germ of the book is an interesting one – the survivor of a serial killer being lured into the grasp of another serial killer – Stolarz fails to deliver on the potential of the book.  It is trite and extremely derivative lacking any compelling, or actually interesting, characters or story.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston.  Laurie Faria Stolarz is an American author of young adult fiction novels, best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Her works, which feature teenage protagonists, blend elements found in mystery and romance novels.

Stolarz found sales success with her first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, and followed it up with three more titles in the series, White is for Magic, Silver is for Secrets, and Red is for Remembrance, as well as a companion graphic novel, Black is for Beginnings. Stolarz is also the author of the Touch series (Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, and Deadly Little Lessons), as well as Bleed and Project 17. With more than two million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been named on various awards list.  Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/58846.Laurie_Faria_Stolarz

Genre Designation: Horror

Possible Curriculum Links: None

Book Talk Ideas:  What would you do to meet one of your favorite celebrities?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

Why this book was selected.  This book was added to the library at one of my schools and is very popular so I decided to check it out.

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