Happy Saturday, Reading Nook!
A LOT of great books came out this week, including Return to the Dark House, the sequel to last year's Welcome to the Dark House.
I've been waiting for this book forever, since Laurie Stolarz's intense, terrifying ending in the first book. And now that I've read it, I've got to say - this does NOT disappoint.
Read on to find out why you need to get this book!
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 21st 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Format read: Finished copy, purchased
As Ivy is confronted by the Nightmare Elf one more time, Stolarz challenges readers in this psychological thriller that will absolutely keep readers terrified, guessing and enthralled, as they read from beginning to end.
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 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.
Because that’s exactly what you get with Return to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz. After a seriously amazing cliffhanger in Welcome to the Dark House, Stolarz brings readers back to Ivy’s worst nightmare: a world where Parker, Natalie, Shayla, Frankie and Garth are still missing, and the killer is still at large.
Much like Welcome to the Dark House, Stolarz has written a character-driven thriller that delves into the psychosis of the main characters, as they also reengage the Nightmare Elf.
Ivy returns far more battle-worn and damaged than in the first book, and Stolarz does a skillful job of showing just how her feelings of helplessness from the first book, have created a certain degree of recklessness and impulsiveness as she reacts to what the Nightmare Elf throws her way.
It's something that very few people can understand, however Ivy lucks out and manages to find a solid ally in Taylor - a.k.a. the one girl who managed to make it out before the horror began in the first book.
Stolarz makes the smart choice of adding the aspiring dancer and Scream Queen's POV to the story, and paints an ugly, though throughly compelling look at Taylor's reputation as the one person who left the others to die. It's a thoughtful commentary on the automatic blame and call-out culture in today's society, while also providing compelling reason for Taylor to join Ivy, when both are invited to take part in a deadly scavenger hunt at an abandoned school, which may or may not take them to their friends.
While Stolarz does a fantastic job of keeping the horror coming through the school at a steady pace, she also knows when to add in much-needed moments of levity and well-rounded backstory. Taylor is a much-appreciated addition to Ivy’s intensive sleuthing, and Taylor’s wise-cracking comments help calm what would otherwise be a terrifying, incomprehensible situation, while giving both girls the mental strength to keep moving.
We also learn via interspersed diary entries, that the school was where the killer was once a student, and also the place where the killer slowly went mad. Though diary entries are a frequently-utilized tool in horror stories, Stolarz has a knack for writing the type of entries that indicate a creepy, systematic meltdown of the writer, while also adding much needed background to just what and who Ivy and Taylor are facing.
Though the ending of the book leaves some open-ended storylines, readers won’t be able to resist Stolarz’s tacit acknowledgement that the tables have turned for all of the key players in the Nightmare Elf’s “films”. It provides a great lead-in to a potential third book, with a predicted showdown that already has me ridiculously excited.
I didn’t think it was possible to be both scared and fascinated by a book, but this was absolutely true for Return to the Dark House. Laurie Stolarz masterfully preys on Ivy’s worst fears, and translates them into a creepy, layered story that will both terrify and absolutely enthrall readers of all ages.
I strongly recommend this book for fans of light horror or more psychologically-based horror. I think that like the first book, this is the type of book that will appeal more to fans of an R.L. Stine-type of a read, verses a Saw type of reader.
As for me, a third book hasn’t been confirmed yet, but I would absolutely be up for it. I think that Ivy definitely has a score to settle, and I personally can’t wait to see her do it.
About the author:
Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Welcome to the Dark House, and the Touch series, as well as Project 17; Bleed; and the highly popular Blue Is for Nightmares; White Is for Magic; Silver Is for Secrets; Red Is for Remembrance; and Black Is for Beginnings. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston.