Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: Return to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Title: Return to the Dark House (Dark House #2)
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 368
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Review for book 1

Ivy Jensen survived the Dark House once, but can she make it out a second time?

Two months have passed since Ivy narrowly escaped the Nightmare Elf’s grip, but the memories of Parker, Natalie, Shayla, Frankie, and Garth continue to haunt her. Their killer is still out there—somewhere. The police trail has gone cold, though, and it’s up to Ivy to piece together the clues to find him.

When a cryptic video arrives in her inbox, Ivy soon finds herself back in the spotlight, this time on a twisted scavenger hunt through the dark, ancient halls of a long-forgotten Gothic school building. Ivy’s not alone, either. Taylor Monroe has returned to the scene. But can Taylor be trusted? Or is she another pawn in the Nightmare Elf’s deadly game?

Laurie Faria Stolarz crafts a mesmerizing thriller that will leave readers looking over their shoulders.

I recently read Welcome to the Dark House, the first book in this series, and was blown away by it! I've had some pretty bad experiences with YA horror so I didn't have high hopes, but I was pleasantly surprised. So obviously I got the second book as soon as possible and blew through it in less than a day! It did not disappoint.

Return to the Dark House picks up a few months after Ivy Jensen escaped the amusement park, leaving her new friends behind. The first several chapters show Ivy's point of view as she battles with the memories of the Dark House and the guilt of leaving others behind. Everyone thinks she's crazy and the cops are annoyed by her insistence on helping with the case. But no headway has been made and Ivy can't stand idly by. Once again, Ivy is an incredibly strong character. I didn't quite understand her deep feelings for Parker considering the length of their relationship in book one, but I can appreciate that she hadn't had many meaningful relationships since her parents died years earlier.

Cue a new(ish) character: Taylor. Taylor was an interesting addition to an already interesting cast of characters. Unfortunately, I found her more irritating than anything. She was constantly spouting off tidbits about classic horror films in the midst of some insane life or death situation, which seemed pretty unreal. Still, I thought she was a decent character and a good balance for Ivy. Together Taylor and Ivy set out to help the others who might still be alive and find out who the "Nightmare Elf" is in the process.

I.Loved.This.Book. The Dark House series is really unlike any other horror I've read. Throughout the first book I wasn't sure if it was truly paranormal or not, but this one clears that right up. Book two not only furthers this terrifying story, but gives something of a behind the scenes look at the nightmare itself. This one is set in a mansion in the woods, which, while not as creepy as an abandoned amusement park (in my opinion) was still really ominous and I really thought it worked great in the story!

I don't know if there will be a book three since the ending seemed to leave it kind of open. It wrapped up the story enough to be a mostly satisfying ending, but it could definitely do with a third book to round it out. If you're a fan of the horror genre, please give this one a try!