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Return to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ivy Jensen survived the Dark House once, but can she make it out a second time?

Two months have passed since Ivy narrowly escaped the Nightmare Elf’s grip, but the memories of Parker, Natalie, Shayla, Frankie, and Garth continue to haunt her. Their killer is still out there—somewhere. The police trail has gone cold, though, and it’s up to Ivy to piece together the clues to find him.

When a cryptic video arrives in her inbox, Ivy soon finds herself back in the spotlight, this time on a twisted scavenger hunt through the dark, ancient halls of a long-forgotten Gothic school building. Ivy’s not alone, either. Taylor Monroe has returned to the scene. But can Taylor be trusted? Or is she another pawn in the Nightmare Elf’s deadly game?

Laurie Faria Stolarz crafts a mesmerizing thriller that will leave readers looking over their shoulders.

Goodreads Summary

Ivy was lucky enough to have escaped (presumably) her parents' killer as well as the psychotic initiator of the Dark House. However, she escaped without her friends and her love interest, Parker. Against all reason, Ivy desires a return to the horror and mayhem she escaped to have a fighting chance of rescuing her friends. Along the way, she reaches out to Taylor, the girl who ran before the Dark House even got started. Initially, Taylor exhibits more brains than Ivy and strongly resists, but when the clues pour in and Ivy is determined to go, Taylor does not want to abandon her newfound friend.

The book is told from Ivy and Taylor's perspectives. I really liked Taylor's character more than Ivy's this time around. Taylor was funny and tried to inject enthusiasm and humor during the more trying moments of the book; Ivy had this weird single-minded focus that was both admirable and slightly mentally ill. I liked that both girls were brave, but I would have preferred one or both to take different approaches to what ultimately happens in the book. Natalie's perspective is also injected at random times. Her resilience is truly amazing. Her ability to survive despite being captured by the Nightmare Elf is incredible. I liked that the author added a fourth and more mysterious perspective that gave the reader clues into the Nightmare Elf's head. Although I had a good idea of what was going to happen in the end, I still found this an intriguing and fast-paced read.

4 Stars

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