Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1)
by Karina Halle
Published May 2011
Copy provided by author in exchange for honest review
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.Rated 16+ for language and gore~~~~~~~~~~~~Experiment in Terror – a mature New Adult Horror/Romance series
Perry Palomino is twenty-two, a recent college grad, and works as a receptionist at an ad agency even though she has a degree where her skills would be put to better use in a position higher up in the company. But the economy is tough and she had to take what she could get, so that means living at home with her pretty fifteen-year-old fashionista sister, hypercritical mother, and professor father in suburban Portland. But Perry’s never felt like she’s fit in anywhere, with her dark past full of drug use, sketchy friends, and questionable choices. To cope, she takes classes to find a way to escape her life–training as a stunt woman, shooting guns at the range, self defense classes–anything to make life less mundane.
But Perry has been having vivid dreams of shipwrecks and the ocean, ones that leave her breathless and scared night after night. When her family travels to the coast to visit her Uncle and twin trouble maker cousins, Perry takes the opportunity to slip away and explore the abandoned lighthouse on her Uncle’s property. Inside the creepy, dilapidated building with a tragic history, Perry encounters handsome Dex Foray, a smooth talking internet web show producer who’s there to gather footage for a new show that he’s developing.
She also manages to capture some ghostly phenomena that happens while Dex and her are in the lighthouse, and while they part ways in a less than friendly way, Perry can’t shake the fear and nagging nightmares that she has from the experience. So she does what so many people do these days when they need to get something off of their chest: they blog about it. And her videos and blog posts go viral quickly, drawing the attention of Dex’s boss.
Dex sees the opportunity to get his fledgling paranormal web show off the ground–with Perry as the host and Dex behind the camera. And Perry sees a way out of her boring, run of the mill secretary life–even if she must welcome the paranormal back into her life.
Perry is such a real character–unsure of herself, her place in the world, who she wants to be. Her self esteem isn’t that high, but she covers this with humor and a little bit of snark. As soon as sexy Dex appears in the lighthouse, offering her a new opportunity to host this little web show (and as she sees it, a way out of her boring life).
And Dex Foray is good looking, charming when he wants to be, a smart ass all of the time, and his mood swings will give you whiplash. But Perry finds herself pining for him hard, even though Dex is dating a super thin and beautiful celebrity. He’s very eager to break away from filming his girlfriend’s show and make a name for himself, so it really makes you wonder why he’s hell bent on getting away on his own. What kind of secrets and haunted past are both Dex and Perry hiding from each other?
The writing is slow in spots since this is from Perry’s first person point of view, but you get all the dullness and quirkiness of her and her family. You really get to know this character who is just like an average slightly overweight girl trying to make something out of herself. The horror in the book was very mild, and it could be because it takes a lot to scare me these days, but the tension tends to come more from Perry not knowing where these dreams are coming from, and finally what is happening in the light house.
I give this one a four and a half out of five. The banter between Perry and Dex is fun, and seeing them fight their attraction to each other is great/maddening. While the scary parts are moderately chilling and written descriptively without being too gory, this book focused more on Perry’s interactions with Dex and her family rather than the case of the haunted light house.
If you want to check out Darkhouse for yourself, the Kindle edition is free on Amazon.