In Darkhouse, our protagonist is a misfit of a young woman named Perry. She works as a receptionist, a job she despises and shows no interest in, but is unsure of what else to do. She had, in the past, been a worry to her parents because of her use of drugs, her weight and anger problems and even earlier because as a child she seemed unable to tell the difference between her “imaginary” friends and real people. Now she is in her early 20’s, has a job and has lost most of the excess weight she once carried.
Still, she has little self-confidence, is occasionally plagued by nightmares, and has a somewhat complicated relationship with her 15-year-old sister Ada who is very pretty and popular. Ada runs her own very popular, and somewhat lucrative, fashion blog and has already made a name for herself in her online community.
She drifts along this way, just trying not to get fired, until a visit to her uncle’s house. During a party, Perry wanders off to explore the old abandoned lighthouse on the property. There she meets a man who is following a story about the lighthouse for an online show he has pitched to his boss. The night goes from weird to weirder when things start happening in the lighthouse that Perry can’t explain, and that seem to echo her recent nightmares.
After going home, Ada becomes sick with what could be swine flu and is under a temporary quarantine in her room so she doesn’t infect the rest of the family. She asks Perry to fill in on her blog for a couple of days since she is too sick to do it, so Perry writes an account of her experience at the lighthouse. To her surprise, it is a huge success. She is offered the chance at a promotion at work based on her post, and is also contacted by the man she met at the lighthouse, Dex. She is excited about both offers, but more intrigued by Dex’s offer—and by Dex himself.
Dex wants Perry to help him get her uncle’s permission to go back into the lighthouse, and to act as a sort of partner in ghost hunting. He believes Perry is more sensitive to strange places than most people, based on their first meeting. She agrees, and they head out for a long weekend of exploring.
Karina Halle’s book, the first in the “Experiment in Terror” series, is a great introduction both to the premise of the series and the characters. Perry is very sympathetic in her uncertainty because she expresses many of the concerns that we all face at one time or another. Dex is something of an enigma because we only see him from Perry’s point of view, and she can’t quite figure him out herself. Perry’s relationship with her sister Ada is just a side story through the book, but I found it interesting because Ada comes across sometimes as the more mature one, even though she is seven years younger than Perry.
The scary parts were very creepy, and I found myself not wanting to read them at night. The descriptions in the lighthouse were vivid and added to the frightening feel of the place.
Halle is able to make the reader feel, as Perry does, that Dex is not only hard to read, but completely inconsistent. Every time it seems something about him is coming into focus, you realize that it’s not exactly what you thought it would be.
Darkhouse is another great summer read. If you’re looking for Dickens, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a good, spooky read that won’t take up all of your precious reading time, this is definitely a good choice. I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
RATING: 4 stars