Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Release Date: May 1, 2011
How I Got the Book: Received it from the author for review
Enter the world of the highly-acclaimed Experiment in Terror Series by visiting...the Darkhouse:
There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts. Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.
Review:Don't you just hate it when one part of a book is absolutely amazing and the rest leaves so much to be desired? Unfortunately, this is one of the main problems I had with Darkhouse. While it was incredibly fun for the first forty percent or so, it quickly devolved, leaving me with deeper concerns and an unfavorable comparison I have to make even though I don't want to.
For the first part of the book, I grinned like a fool and enjoyed myself immensely. Sure, there were some problems with tense confusion (the narrative would switch between present and past tenses between paragraphs or even mid-sentence), but Perry's temporary ghost blogging adventure was going well. Descriptions of Perry's nightmares were fantastically creepy during her nightmares and her exploration of the lighthouse throughout the book; moments with her sister and Perry's daily life made me smile. All was well and I thought I would enjoy the book.
Then Perry returns to the lighthouse with Dex, the guy she met the first time she went in to explore, and Darkhouse fell into a downward spiral I don't think it ever fully recovered from.
My impression of Perry as a smart (and a likably smart-mouthed) heroine with some demons she would happily keep in her past slowly changed for the worse as the novel went on. She seemed to get blinded by her attraction to Dex and made more than a few horrible decisions. One of her worse decisions? Skipping the hospital when she had a huge head wound and large bruises all over her. The straw that broke my back was when she labeled Dex's girlfriend Jennifer a bitch despite never meeting her and knowing very little about her. I don't like that word and I don't like that kind of attitude.
Dex didn't give me a great first impression and he never proved himself worthy of anything better. I don't like liars, especially liars whose reason for lying is "because sometimes I lie." Really, he lies about stuff like his motivation and whether or not he believes in ghosts for no reason at all. He didn't exactly win me over by forcing Perry to go up a staircase in a haunted lighthouse when she was terrified out of her mind. Why does she trust him the way she does? I really have no idea.
A few recent experiences my friends have had with a particular book called Beautiful Disaster (Jamie McGuire) play into another problem I had with Darkhouse. Now, I have not read BD; I never plan to because I know it will be bad for my mental health and possibly triggering. The research I have done and the discussions my friends point to one problem with BD: how the book would quickly point out how this person is so messed up or how this one thing is so wrong, but it is never truly condemned and that judgment never sticks. This is some very dangerous handwaving considering the content, but this review is not about BD.
So what could Darkhouse have in common with it? They pull the same kind of quick but ineffective condemnation of someone or something--Dex's behavior, in this case, though the two do it on two very different levels. He's a mentally unstable liar (the mental instability is explained later, but the lying really has no excuse, as seen above) and Perry questions why she went along with him when she shouldn't have. Common sense! Yes! But then she lets his lies and behavior drop so easily. Treating him differently because he has a few issues would be wrong, she shouldn't forget about it either. That's something to keep in mind.
There are a lot of things Perry lets Dex get away with when she shouldn't. Like calling the sister she cares so much about narcissistic because she's a fashion blogger. Like lying to her cousins for absolutely no reason about why he is investigating the lighthouse with Perry. Like indirectly calling his own girlfriend a "self-obsessed stick-thin bimbo." (Context: Dex's boss said Perry wasn't pretty or thin enough like Jennifer (Dex's co-worker and girlfriend) to be the face of a webcast. Dex steps in to defend Perry with "[Perry] may not be a self-obsessed stick-thin bimbo, but she's more than right for this job.")
Since most of my issues lie with the characters, I'm not sure I can continue to follow the series. As I've already learned with a YA series I followed for seven books despite hating its heroine, I can only take so much when I can't stand the characters I should be rooting for. I think I've already hit my limit with Perry and Dex. Still, I did have fun reading it for a time and it's not all bad. With so many inexpensive ebooks out there of great quality, terrible quality, and everything in between, Darkhouse is worth spending time and money on.
3 stars! (But more like 2.5 stars.)
What am I reading next?: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan