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Darkhouse - Karina Halle
I am always looking out for new and great book sets, and thus am part of the online book community; 'Goodreads.com' where people can share the books they have read for free. It was here that I originally came across a few people reading 'The Experiment in Terror' series by Karina Halle. I added it to my 'to-read' list and it was not long before actual friends of mine were recommending the books as well. I knew it was time to start the series in the hope that we had come across a great set, and so visited Amazon.co.uk. Here I found out that this very first book in the series was on Kindle for absolutely FREE! That is my type of word! Immediately I downloaded the book to my Kindle and began to read!
Darkhouse is the first book in the 'Experiment in Terror' series. To date, there are six main books in this series, with another one due out later this year (2013) and a further two books (at least) in the future. There are also a number of mid-books which fall in between certain main books. These you do not have to read to enjoy and follow the series, though if you are like me and fall in love with this set then you will want to go back and fill in the blanks with these sub-books. The main books so far include;
Dead Sky Morning
On Demon Wings
Into the Hollow
Come Alive (Expected out 2013)
Ashes to Ashes (Not yet published)
Dust to Dust (Not yet published)
At the time of writing this review, I have read up to the fourth book.
With all this said, I will now take you on to my review of the first book of the series...
DARKNESS IN A LIGHT HOUSE
"Somehow, by dealing with the dead, I had never felt so alive."
There are so many vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, and I admit, I have read a large share of these, though after a while, supernatural and fantasy books along these lines can quite often look the same and make you become almost numb to all things in this genre.
'Darkhouse' takes the supernatural on to a whole new level in more ways than one, and in effect, it is a ghost story though with some amazing twists and turns and two brilliant characters who are both unforgettable and extremely 'real'.
Twenty Two year old Perry Palomino is wasting away as a receptionist, even though she has a degree in advertising and she does not realise just how unique she is. All her life she has seen and felt things which others could not, and using and abusing drugs whilst being sent to therapists did not do anything for her self esteem.
One weekend, Perry is out visiting her family and becomes almost obsessed with an old abandoned lighthouse that her uncle inadvertently owns. After a night drinking on the beach with her cousins and their friends, Perry decides to take a walk alone to the creepy lighthouse, taking with her a small camera to record her adventure. It is here that she meets Dex Foray, a thirty two year old amateur camera man for an online internet company who just happened to break in to the lighthouse the very night Perry did.
Is it really just a coincidence?
After returning home again, Perry can not stop thinking about Dex and the lighthouse, and apparently, neither can Dex himself and he rings her a short while later and she soon finds herself drawn back to the lighthouse equipped with cameras and a partner, though what they find there is beyond anyones imagination. Is it all in Perry's head? Is she really going crazy? Is Dex really crazy? Or is there something more sinister lurking in the shadows?
In reading the blurb, it is apparent that this is a ghost story, though the comparisons to other ghost stories stop there as this one takes it to a whole other level. Although the book begins a little slow, it soon speeds up and throws a lot of energy and emotion to the reader, drawing them into the depths of the world created in the covers of this book. As soon as the energy sparks, it becomes extremely difficult to put the book down, and I found myself caught in the storyline fully, barely being able to take a breath in between one thing and another.
Everything involved in a great ghost story is here; a supposedly haunted lighthouse, a creepy history which is brought into the story to great effect, a terrific storm, feelings of betrayal, suspicion and fear from both the outside and within the main character whose point of view this is written from. It also incorporates a feeling of madness and a prominent question of what is real and what is imaginary, and it is all written in such a real way that it could be happening before your very eyes. I could almost feel the fear emanating from Perry, feel the rain on my cheeks, and sense what could be lurking in the woods around the lighthouse. At many points, the fear radiating from Perry becomes almost manic which engages your full attention.
The flow and style is brilliant. It took a short while to get into the story and I felt that the beginning was a little slow, though please, if you are planning on reading this series, read on through this as it gets so much better and packs so much action and energy into it. Once it gets going, it does not stop until the end, and the style of writing is so real to read that this, along with the near perfect flow of the story, really makes this a fantastic, easy-going read.
The main action takes place in and around the lighthouse, and although this is a small place, it is perfectly written, giving you a sense that nothing else exists. The area is described perfectly in an almost Gothic way without giving away too much detail, though just enough to allow you to feel as though you are really there with these characters.
Talking of the characters, I think this is something else which provides a heightened feel of fear. The two main characters are so real! We get to know Perry much more than the mysterious Dex, though both are written without any flaws and enough detail is provided to really appeal to the reader. Never before have I read a main character which I can relate to in many ways, and one which pleads for my full attention to completely. Neither one is fake in any way, and both seem to jump from the page with such perfection - I was absolutely amazed with their characterizations, personalities and the way that they are both written into the story. There is also a history that both have hidden inside them, and although we learn some of Perry's history, we only find out enough to keep the story going and make us want more and more of not only the story, but these characters as well. I almost feel wrong calling them characters as they really are so real!
The story probably best falls into the supernatural genre with the main aspect of this particular story being that of a ghost story. The genre, though, is not that easy to place as there is aspects of amazingly funny humour, an undercurrent of a love story (though one which does not go anywhere in this story), a mystery, horror, thriller, action...you name it, this book has it all and everything is incorporated into the story in such an amazing way that you don't really concentrate on what genre this should rightfully fit it - you just fall in love with every part of it!
The story is written from the first person perspective as already mentioned, and this is from Perry's perspective. This is a fantastically written viewpoint and we learn just as much as the author wants us to about this character, with the story opening up before us as it does to Perry. We see and feel her insecurities about her life, her body and her thoughts and feelings. We feel her fear. We cry out in shock the moment she does. It is possibly one of the best third person points of view I have read as there is nothing unreal about this character, and although I can not relate to everything about her, there is bound to be something with this person that everyone will be able to relate to.
The following warning is written in the blub;
"Darkhouse and the Experiment in Terror series is a horror/romance for mature audiences only. Readers who are easily offended by harsh language should think twice about reading it."
This is something to take note of. I am not one to love reading harsh languages within a book and often feel that it is put there for no good reason other than the way younger readers tend to speak these days, though I do admit that most of this language within this book feels right to be there. Perhaps it is the 'real' feeling of the characters and storyline which makes these words seem in the right places? Perhaps it is something else, though either way, I was not offended by it in the slightest and it became as part of this story as the characters themselves were. There is a lot of this type of harsh language, though, so do be warned.
Other aspects to be aware of are such things as violence, sexual tension and mental health. All of these pop their heads in and out of the pages throughout the story. They are not paramount in the story, though they are constant.
In a lot of 'ghost stories' I have often found a large element of predictability, and although I could guess some small things within this story, everything else was shocking and surprising. It was not like any other ghost story I have ever read before, and the lack of predictability makes it much more creepy.
Talking of creepiness, the question begs to be asked as to whether this story is creepy at all. The answer to this is yes, it is extremely creepy in many areas. I would not say it was overly scary, though I could quite imagine reading alone at night with a storm outside could make a reader jump more than I did!
So what makes this book any different to other books along these lines?
Everything makes this book different from other books along the ghostly/supernatural lines. Yes, it does have elements from other books and films, a couple which spring to mind is the US television series of Supernatural and also X.Files, though still, I find that this book goes even further. I think it is the perfectly written reality of it all which keeps it grounded whilst allowing the mind to roam free which creates such an amazing read. The story is not overly unique in many ways, though there are a number of surprises, and again, the way it is written creates the feel of something until now, left undiscovered.
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of this book compare?
The ending of this book is just as brilliant as the rest of the book, though it does seem to arrive too quickly. It was almost as though the story had to be wrapped up in a five minute slot and was running against the clock. I wanted to read more and felt like there could have been a little more to the story, though what was written was written well and left me really wanting to know more. Luckily, a already had the next book on my Kindle and there was no way I was going to wait!
And just a little trivia for you in case you have not guessed already - The title 'Darkhouse' is what Dex and Perry call the lighthouse due to the darkness found within there!
"I hate bullshitters; you can never bullshit them."
I absolutely loved this book. The story was above average, perhaps not fantastic, but amazing in its own way and the characters themselves were so real and brilliantly written. It was a creepy story, so full of energy and the style of story just kept me held within the pages from beginning to end (after the slightly slow start).
Will I read the next book?
I have already ready the next book! I could not wait and have managed to get through three and a half books plus one sub-book in a matter of a couple of weeks as this series gets you so addicted, and it all began with this first book! The author certainly knows what she is doing!
The paperback version of the book is 346 pages
The price of this book on amazon is slightly more than many books of this kind at over £8 for the paperback form. At the moment (and I am not sure how long it will last), this book is readily downloadable from Amazon for the Kindle for FREE! A perfect price, and don't worry if you don't have a kindle, Amazon allows you to download a kindle for the computer also for free, so you have no excuse for not reading this book straight away if it is your sort of story.
Do I recommend this book?
Without a Doubt!