Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 6 - 8Grade 6n/a5.162601

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.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published on June 23, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
ISBN-10: 1423194721
ISBN-13: 9781423194729
1 Book Review
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  • cburke
    cburkeTuesday, March 8, 2016 at 8:52 am
    Imagine having this one fear in your life. Not any ordinary fear, not some scary story. A reality. Imagine not being able to sleep at night or do anything you used to do before it happened. Imagine having the eyes of a killer stuck in your memory. Imagine having to change your identity, and have every law force looking after him, yet you know they aren't any closer to finding him. For eighteen year-old Ivy Jensen, this is her life. The story, Welcome to the Dark House, by Laurie Faria Stolarz, is an amazing book with twists and turns around every corner. If I could rate this book 10/5 stars, I would. After reading this, it is now my all time favorite book of the horror genre. The plot build up leaves anyone reading on the edge of their seats, and horror fanatics everywhere would absolutely adore this. The cleverly put in details affecting the course of the story absolutely blow my mind. Unless you're paying real close attention to a small detail, something that a character said that wasn't acknowledged, or even the way a character said something, you can be really confused by the reasoning of a certain way a scene was played out. It blows my mind that certain writers can not only create a horror story, but they can input clues and mysterious identities without giving too much away. It was made to almost sound like you were watching a horror show, yet something was just off about it. The different vantage points from each of the characters helps a lot with the character development, as it is hard to know a character based off of one person's vantage point. The book begins with a backstory. Ivy Jensen was only twelve years old. She lived with her mother and father in a happy little home, and life was happy for the family until one night. Ivy awakened to screams down the hall. They were from her parents. The sound of struggle seemed to go on for hours, until it finally silenced. Music from a cliché horror movie started to play. The killer was on the move, and he revealed his eyes only to Ivy, before uttering the lag words she heard him say before letting her run down the stairs to call the cops, “Good morning Princess.” There was no trace of him when the police arrived. Except her name wasn't Ivy. She had to change her name. Her family. Her life. One day she got an email from a junk mail site that sent her ads on the regular. The email was from a horror story director named Justin Blake, and one of his famous stories called “The Dark House”. Except, this time she felt different. The email was asking for participants to enter in their nightmares, and they would be flown out to a place to film this movie remediation of “The Dark House”. She reluctantly sent one in, thinking it would help her see horror as entertainment. She was chosen along with six other people, as the story tells different parts in different points of views, for each of the participants. When everyone gets to the Dark House Hotel, everything seems fine. However, the story gets really odd when one of the people goes missing. There's a message left in the closet of her room, saying, “Get out before it's too late”. The others take it as a joke, especially one of the horror fanatic contestants Garth. The story shows many different examples of foreshadowing. I believe that this helps a lot with having the story put together at the end. For example, the text has all of the contestants share their nightmares with each other, going into great detail about each one of their experiences. The author wouldn't put so much focus on these if it didn't have some effect throughout the story. Through each of the viewpoints, the reader can see what the character is going through. For example, when the text is in the viewpoint of one of the characters, Shayla, it says, “Having spent the last nine years at four different boarding schools, I've had my fair share of abrupt transitions and seen some nasty cases of homesickness. My best friend Dara included.” This text example has some serious foreshadowing as to what might happen to Shayla throughout the story. I would recommend reading the story to find out exactly what happens to each character, as it is more interesting finding out for yourself. Another reason I really enjoy this book is because of the character development. For example, when the text explains one of the characters, Shayla, through Frankie’s point of view, “There was this really cute girl next to me, and I mean really cute. Her thick rimmed black glasses and cute black pulled back hair was adorable. She introduced herself to Parker, not that she really needed an introduction from how much she was already saying.” Even from that small section out of the whole book, the reader has a good idea of who exactly Shayla is. We learn a lot about her personality, including how she is perky and likes to talk a lot. The main reason I like this is because the author has specific traits for certain characters to symbolize their fate or destiny in the book. This book really is a good example of the horror genre. Unlike other cheap films and books that approach horror in a cheap and short way, I believe that Stolarz did an amazing job taking her time with developing the characters and plot from scratch. The amount of time it must have taken to actually put together a well thought out novel with small details and characters that all have reason, is unimaginable. From doing some research on the author, it seems as if she is well known for her works in the horror genre, including many books that had fans literally raging for more sequels. Also, it explains how she got a degree in creative writing, further supporting my idea that she was very creative in coming up with clues and characters for this book. I have seen and read many horror books and movies, and pieces that don't use the mystery clue features that are usually connected with that genre, tend to not be that interesting. These books and movies are definitely unlike Stolarz’s work. A type of reader who would enjoy this book is a reader who definitely loves horror and mystery. The types of books that let you piece it together even before the problem is solved using clues. The whole story is based around horror, so it's hard to enjoy this book a lot if you aren't a fan of it. Overall, this is an amazing book and I definitely recommend it for horror or mystery fanatics.