Hello folks, Madeline Iva here. Today we have a guest post by Sarah Driver, who has a book review site: Romances For the Weary Feminist.
She’s reviewing Dark House today–check it out!
Ever wake up with nightmares? Startle your little sister out of sleep with your screams from said nightmares?
Perry Palomino, the intrepid heroine of Darkhouse (An Experiment in Terror) by Karina Halle, has just a few teeny problems with sleeping through the night. Her recent nightmares have a way of coming true.
Darkhouse has been out since 2011 but you won’t find it on many standard romance book lists because it bends the genre firmly into horror. I’ll be honest; it’s neither your standard read-on-the-beach romance book nor do we get an HEA at the end of book 1, but it is a romance in its own way. The romance doesn’t really go anywhere until the fourth book in the series—and the series is nine books long—but the culmination is worth the wait. Also, you should know right now that the characters don’t always make the correct moral choices.
Perry is a young woman who sneaks into her uncle’s lighthouse and sees something that scares her. In her panic, she escapes and physically runs into Dex, an older man trespassing in hopes of filming ghosts for a new show. Instead of reporting him to the police, Perry eventually agrees to film the supposed ghost of the lighthouse with him. I’m not going to spill the beans on what happens next.
I advise you not to turn the pages at night. All of the characters are well written and complex–even the supporting characters are well drawn. Currents of secrets run under everything.
Underlying secrets, the sea, and a spooky lighthouse–
The possibility of romance is one of the main reasons that Perry agrees to work with Dex. She thinks he’s hot. Dex calls her “kiddo” and “barely legal” because he’s all of a decade older than her 22. Darkhouse is peppered with Perry trying not to be attracted to Dex. But is it mutual? I think so, especially after reading this:
He was staring at my ass. At least that’s what it looked like. I guess when it’s the biggest thing in the room, it must be hard not to stare at it. I waited for him to look up. He eventually did and gave me a bright, innocent flash of straight teeth. I narrowed my eyes at him. ‘Were you staring at my ass?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied without hesitation. His eyes were round and crazy. Or playful, if you wanted to use a polite term for crazy.
Dex is complicated. He tells Perry that she is dangerous for him—but not exactly how. The implications just dangle there. If I were Perry’s mother I would tell Perry to run for the hills. But I’m not her mother, and holy shit I see why Perry thinks he’s hot.
I tried not to stare at him. It was tough, though. The longer I was in that car, the more I was mesmerized by his face. Sometimes it looked at peace. His soft eyelids would sort of half droop, the corners of his wide mouth would twitch intermittently like he was on the cusp of a telling a ridiculous joke. Sometimes he looked like he was consumed by some internal fire. His eyes became darker, harder, framed by deep chasmy shadows created by the brooding brow. His mouth would set in a hard, firm line and his smart-ass smirk would vanish.
Man, I adore sexual tension and with the forbidden romance undertones, the sexual tension in this book is delicious. You can understand why Perry’s attracted to Dex. Most people can probably relate to (or at least remember) Perry’s feelings of insecurity, occasional moments of jealousy, and general early 20s angst. She is tired of the banality of life and ghost hunting is a way to escape that banality, feel important, and hang out with a hot man.
The actual reality of ghost hunting with Dex proves to be somewhat less fun than Perry anticipated. A better word would be “horrifying.” The ghosts in this series do more than open windows or knock pictures off of walls.
Darkhouse was good enough to make it to my “Great Books” collection on Kindle.
I was thrilled with Darkhouse because it kept me in suspense and the character imperfections made the story feel real to me–even if it’s a ghost story.
So far, so good!
Dark House is the first in a series, so like any reading addict, I promptly read Halle’s next two books, Red Fox and Dead Sky Morning, in the same day. I would’ve kept reading but I wanted to get at least a few hours of sleep. I have only read up to the fourth book in the series but I recommend all that I have read thus far.
Thanks for being with us, Sarah! Meanwhile, readers if you want more good book recommendations please follow us–we’ll never leave you alone at night.