Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Sleep Well—And Dream Well

A review of Darkhouse, an Experiment In Terror novel, by Karina Halle, which features ghost hunters on the A side of YA.

Sleep Well—And Dream Well

BOOK REPORT for Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror Book 1) by Karina Halle

Cover Story: Love It!
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Spooktastic
Bonus Factors: Ghost Stories, Ghost Hunters, Errol Flynn Mustache
Relationship Status: Brand New Beau

Cover Story: Love It

This cover is just eerie enough. I like the subtlety of the colors and the way the clouds are somehow menacing. If it could speak, it would say "It was a dark and stormy night..." and you know what? It was.

The Deal:

Perry Palamino is struggling with how she's using her advertising degree --in her job as a receptionist at an advertising firm. But that's nothing really new in Perry's life. She's always been struggling to find her self, her place. From her imaginary friends when she was little, to her heavy experimentation with illegal substances in high school --even including that long stint where she thought she could actually be a stunt-woman-- nothing has fit. Not to mention she's been having nightmares again: horrible ones.

Something draws her to the abandoned old lighthouse on her uncle's property, where Perry runs into (literally) Declan "Dex" Foray, a cameraman, producer and composer for a possible new "ghost hunter" webcast series. What happens to them in the lighthouse inspires Dex to ask her to join him on the show, but neither one of them are prepared for what they are about to experience...

BFF Charm: Yay

Perry totally needs a BFF to have her back, 'cause the girl's life has felt like one big slap in the face. It's not easy to grow up struggling with your self-image, and your propensity for curves when your mom is a former model and your little sister takes after her completely. But Perry, I would be there for you. We could go thrifting for old band t-shirts and comfy boots, and you could bake pie, and I would totally eat it with you, and I would believe you when you told me about the weird things you see. Just don't ask me to go to that lighthouse with you.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Perry and Dex. Oh, Dex and Perry. Dex, how I found you swoony with your 90's eyebrow ring, I'll never know. But somehow, those stormy eyes of yours won me over. But you guys, how you frustrate me with your flirtation and growing feelings for each other!

ExThis book keeps you on the edge of your seat asking the 'will they or won't they' question, while building up sexual tension like boiling water in a teapot. All I can say is: they better.

Talky Talk: Spooktastic

In our post entitled What's On Yr YA Milk Carton?, where we discussed what's missing from YA, one of the things we all agreed on was that we wanted more stories about people in the 18-24 age range. Only thing is, publishers sometimes automatically put books about that age range in adult fiction, even when it meets YA criteria. So while I'm not sure if this book is technically YA, it should be.

Halle's first-person narrative is written in a breezy fashion that instantly made me feel like I could hang out with her protagonist. Perry has the voice of a true young woman --from her strengths to her idiosyncracies-- including her sometimes-use of obscure adjectives and flowery description. She also writes some seriously scary shit. Like, not 'give you nightmares' scary, but full-on haunting suspense that left my pulse racing on more than one occasion. What I liked most about her writing, though, was that this book didn't feel like a scary book. It felt like a book about one of my friends, who just happened to go on a successful ghost hunting vacation.

Bonus Factor: Ghost Stories

This book has ACTUAL thrills and chills. In fact, I experienced a total 'oh shit' moment at one point when I was reading it in a dimly lit and quiet room, when my cell phone chirping an incoming text nearly gave me a heart attack.

Bonus Factor: Ghost Hunters

Now if this were about that dumb show with a bunch of douche bags running around with night vision cameras, it would be an anti-bonus factor. But every once in a while, there's something actually spooky on those shows, which is why people keep watching them when they could be having a laugh at Top Gear. This book involves the real kind of ghost hunting, er, if you believe in that sort of thing. Not that I do, or anything...

Bonus Factor: Errol Flynn's Mustache

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I love a mustache. Up until the damn dirty hipsters (said in a Michael Cain voice) commandeered it a couple of years ago, I had been able to convince my husband (a notoriously lazy shaver) to wear them from time to time. From the trucker to the drug dealer to the 80's gay porn star mustache, to the, yes, Errol Flynn --I love them all. I think they're sexy. What is wrong with me? I ask myself that question often. Anyway, this book has one.

Casting Call:

While reading this, I could only picture two people to play the leads. Luckily, we know they work well together.

Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward as Perry & Dex

Relationship Status: Brand New Beau

OMG, you guys! I just met this hot book, and it's so cool and fun and easy to talk to and sexy and mysterious and, okay, a little edgy, but in that totally safe way, you know? I mean, we've been hanging out every night this week, and it's just like, we share this amazing connection, yeah? Like, the other night, we were just sitting and listening to music, and it's like, we LIKE ALL THE SAME MUSIC. I mean, I'm trying not to read too much into things, but...

FTC Full Disclosure: I received this book from the author. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!).Darkhouse is available in stores now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
K