|Read from July 2 to July 3, 2014|
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Number of Pages: 368
Genre/s: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery/Thriller
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
The moment I started reading Welcome to the Dark House, I just knew I was going to like it. I could say that this novel has the strongest beginning chapter among all the books I've read this year. The only question in my mind was: Can Welcome to the Dark House sustain this promising start?
The answer is it did, for the most part. We have multiple POVs that might seem seriously daunting if not properly handled, but it worked surprisingly well and it kept things interesting. I admire that Stolarz was able to create several characters with distinct personalities and voices. The only thing I find challenging at the start was remembering the characters' names.
Personally, what I loved most about Welcome to the Dark House were the characters' backstories. All of them are coping from their horrifying pasts, and for some of them, entering and winning the contest is an opportunity of a lifetime and a way to move forward with their lives. Although sometimes it feels that there's not enough time to get into a character's head or that it seems quite a short novel for such a diverse cast, I feel that these backstories were substantial enough so the readers could connect to them in some way.
Even though I enjoyed reading Welcome to the Dark House, this novel is not without flaws. At times, I was slightly annoyed because the narrative give the impression that we're supposed to take things at face value. For instance, I find it hard to believe that a contest this big could be kept under wraps and that they wouldn't bother to at least confirm if it's legit or not, before entering. Plot-wise, I think Stolarz could have raised the stakes higher to make the situation more unsettling and frightening. Also, not much horror happens until the latter part of the book. But I mostly didn't mind this, considering that I'm horrified as it is with the characters' backgrounds.
I believe there's a good chance that there'd be a sequel for this novel, and I'm excited to find out what will happen next. I'd definitely recommend Welcome to the Dark House for fans of light horror and R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series.