We're doing a Halloween Reading Challenge in the Unapologetic Romance Readers group. I picked DARKHOUSE to fulfill the "romance set in/near a haunted house" category. Halle actually turned out to be a perfect author for this challenge, because I'm going to use the sequel to this book, RED FOX, for the "romance novel with a skull on the cover" category (it was toss-up between this book and PASSION & VENOM).
DARKHOUSE sounds great as a concept (GHOST HUNTERS!!!!), but isn't so great in execution. This really disappointed me, because I thought the cover was gorgeous, and the idea of ghost hunters (GHOST HUNTERS!!!!!) making a living through Youtube was really great. Ghosts in a creepy old lighthouse? Nightmares that might actually be real? Yaaaaaa to the ssssss.
Unfortunately, I really had to push myself to finish this one. I was so hyped up for it, too. All of my friends loved this one, including some whose opinions I really trust. I think only two people on my friends list actually gave it a one star. I wanted to like it, too, so I, too, could be one of the cool kids.
But I didn't.
Part of the problem was the narrator, Perry Palomino. I didn't like her "voice" much at all. Sometimes I can read about an unlikable character and still enjoy their narrative even if I don't like the person, but that wasn't the case here. She was selfish and rude and went on all these random asides about irrelevant things - and the "voice" itself was inconsistent. There were some genuinely spooky passages in here, which would be immediately followed my some random flashback or thought that detracted from the doom & gloom. I didn't care for all the woman hate in this book, either, or how she chases after Dex, even when she finds out that he has a girlfriend (she just demonizes the girlfriend instead). I didn't like that she goes after someone with mental illness, either, using her knowledge of it to insult them as soon as they have a fight, and referring to them as a "madman." Not cool, Perry.
Dex wasn't so great, either. He's a little overly fond of the r-word for my liking, which I think some people will find off-putting or offensive. He's described as looking like "Errol Flynn", which is an odd comparison for a twenty-year-old to make. I know who Errol Flynn is, but I like older books and movies. I'm not sure most millennials would know who that is. I did like that we actually got to see Dex at work, though. Wine Babes actually sounds like an awesome show, despite what Perry seems to think about the aforementioned babes and the fact that Dex is dating one. I love wine, and think the idea of traveling around and judging and tasting wines sounds like a blast. And knowing what I learned about him towards the end, I was able to sympathize with him a little more, too.
There's also some editing mistakes in here. At one point, "enviously" is used where "enviably" should have been used, and "conscience" is used in lieu of "conscious." I think there were one or two instances where a word was used incorrectly or in an awkward way. It's really not that bad for an independent work, and this actually did not factor into my rating because it was minor enough that it really didn't impact my reading, but I thought it'd be worth pointing out because in the future the author might want to consider running this by an editor, trimming down Perry's rambling and fixing the mistakes. I honestly think it would be a much tighter work with a second person on board.
DARKHOUSE may have been a disappointment...but I've been assured that the later books are much better. I peeked at the summaries of RED FOX and DEAD SKY MORNING, and they do look interesting. Navajo folklore and leper colonies? That does sound like something straight out of Stevie King's horror playbook, and I love me some Stephen King-style creeps. I bought books 1-6 in this series in ebook (they're on sale right now!), so I guess we'll just have to wait and see!
1 to 1.5 out of 5 stars.