Review: Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror #1) by Karina Halle

Darkhouse - Karina Halle




With all the vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, it's easy to become numb to all things supernatural. The antidote? Darkhouse introduces two real and unforgettable characters, Perry Palomino & Dex Foray, amateur ghost hunters who are "attractive, relatable and oddly heroic," "flawed but loveable," "slightly crazy" and just the most endearing pair to ever tackle the paranormal...just don't call them normal.


Darkhouse is a thrilling and sexy new take on concepts like Supernatural and The X-Files, bringing a breath of fresh air to a genre that has been inundated with the dead.


Reading Order: 

Darkhouse (#1)

Red Fox (#2)

The Benson (#2.5)

Dead Sky Morning (#3)

Lying Season (#4)

On Demon Wings (#5)

Old Blood (#5.5)

The Dex Files (#5.7)

Into the Hollow (#6)

And With the Madness Comes the Light (#6.5)

Come Alive (#7)

Ashes to Ashes (#8) - To be released

Dust to Dust (#9)  - To be released


ashes to ashes

review darkhouse



What I love the most about this series, and this book in particular, are it's characters. The story is undeniably riveting, though somewhat slow paced at times as it delves into the intricate backgrounds and personalities of Perry and Dex, two amateur ghost hunters as they dive into the mystery surrounding a haunted 'darkhouse'.


Perry was both irritating and endearing.  I think what most attracts me to Karina Halle's book are her honest portrayals of the characters. As with The Artists Trilogy, she doesn't make things easy for them or for the reader. I find that a lot of authors 'tell' us how the character suffers, whereas with this series we are really steeped in the intricacies of their personalities. The good - and the bad. Perry is not the easiest character to like. She can be selfish, impulsive, stubborn, and even somewhat childish. Actually, Karina made a good point when she mentioned in her interview that Perry is a lot like many 22-year-olds; she's just a young woman trying to find her place and who she is. 


“I used to dream big. It seemed like somewhere along the way I had forgotten about that. And gave up.”


Back to the character development again. There are just some lines and thoughts that Perry has that I can immediately connect with. How many times have you thought as you grew into adulthood that things were never much like you had envisioned as a child? Love. Life. Work. I see her as a disillusioned, though still impossibly idealistic person who is searching for that something that makes her feel whole. 


If there was a moment that determined the course of my future, I'm pretty sure this was it. I had two somewhat simple choices. I could make a run for it and go back to Uncle Al's. Back to the bonfire where my cousins and dear sister would be drinking and revel in the normalcy of a Saturday night and forget I ever went to this horrid place and ran into this weirdo. Or I could go with said weirdo up the stairs in this decrepit old lighthouse, which was most likely condemned and unsafe, towards some unknown person (or thing) that was walking around, potentially waiting to murder us in horrific ways. 

It didn't seem like a very hard decision to make. In fact, I think 99.7% of people in the right frame of mind would have picked from column A and gone on with their merry lives. But for some freaking crazy reason, I thought that maybe, just maybe I should go with this stranger up those kelp-ridden stairs and toward the lair of unimaginable horror. You know, because it was the more interesting alternative.


Stifled by the everyday job that was never as fulfilling as she had anticipated, Perry jumped at the chance to investigate her uncle's abandoned lighthouse. (Impulsive and stubborn, remember?) There she bumps into a strange man who'd also been filming there.


Ah, Dex. Crazy, silly, unreadable Dex. The first encounter pretty much sums up how you'll feel about him for the entirety of the first book. A little enamored with his mysterious past, definitely attracted to his confident, but at the same time vulnerable, persona. He's a little slippery, this one. Just as you think you've got him pegged, he does or says something that shifts your perception and it's a guessing game all over again. 


Because sometimes I lie, Perry. We all lie, even you, but not everyone is brave enough to admit it.


The first book, as I've mentioned, is a little slow and in all honesty it's  not until the third book that things really picked up for me. There's a lot of set up going on, as with any kind of extended series, but I urge you to stick it out. At the time of this posting I'm rereading the series and catching a lot of subtle nuances that play into the major points down the road and allow me a whole new appreciation for each book. That's definitely part of the reason why I love it so much. The slow build up really allows me to build a deep connection with the characters. She doesn't sacrifice development for brevity. 

You aren't going to get a lot of answers with this first book, in fact you're definitely going to be left with more questions than you had in the beginning. Not only with the whole ghost / paranormal shebang, but with Perry and Dex themselves. We know that they are the romantic interests and the attraction is certainly there for Perry, but Dex is in a relationship with another coworker from his internet webisode company named Jenn. Jenn, by the way, is everything that Perry is not. Driven, accomplished, focused, thin, friendly. She hates her, but at the same time wishes she were more like her. 


To summarize, I loved how fresh, unique, and real this series is. That being said, I wouldn't give up on this series if this first read was a bit slow for you because it is a lot like getting to know someone and it takes time. If you're looking for something new and interesting that will send tingles down your spine I'd recommend this to you. With each subsequent novel, they get more and more intense - not only relationship wise, but with the 'terror' aspect. 


Which reminds me, Karina has the craziest talent for description - which is what sold me on her work in the first place. I've  never, ever read anything with half as much description that is in these books. I don't know what it is, and I can't completely explain it (READ THE BOOKS!), but she is gifted with the singular ability to describe the paranormal events and even the landscapes with such clarity that I can literally picture it in my mind. This serves not only to make the books extremely engrossing, but also to make them unbelievably terrifying. 


Somehow, by dealing with the dead, I had never felt so alive.