What's your worst nightmare?
For Ivy Jensen, it's the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it's bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.
And for seven essay contestants, it's their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake's latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn't even like scary movies, but she's ready to face her real-world fears. Parker's sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.
Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It's bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group-the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; "Mister Sensitive"; and the one who's too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.
Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
Praise for WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE:
“The suspense starts pounding when the teens enter the park and doesn’t stop until readers are ready for the sequel. Stephen King would love it.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Stolarz writes a wonderfully eerie story…. This title will have huge teen appeal.” - School Library Journal
“Truly terrifying plot twists unfold at breakneck pace, shifting quickly from character to character. Impressively fearsome.” – Horn Book
“I ‘fell in love’ with each of the characters (empathy-wise) because they are so cleverly delineated. Three cheers and twelve stars for this winner!” - Mallory Heart Reviews
"A perfect novel for anyone who loves gut-wrenching fear." - Children's Book World Teen Readers' Council
“Stolarz takes you on a thrilling and terrifying ride with the introduction to her new series, Welcome to the Dark House, a tale meant to haunt you into the thrilling depths of fear itself.” - Hellnotes
WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE Winning Contest Entries:
Check out the winning essays from the recent WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE RELEASE CONTEST, where entrants were asked to submit their worst nightmares to the Nightmare Elf.
Here's an excerpt from the Grand Prize winner, Chantel Coughlin:
My nightmare begins as I am putting my five-year-old brother to bed. He looks up at me with big brown eyes and asks me to tuck his blankets tighter, despite how muggy it is in the house on this hot August night. I do as he asks, giving him a kiss on the forehead, and make my way to the door, turning off the light as I go. Before I can make it back into the hall, he calls me back. He asks me to check his closet – he still believes in the boogeyman. I smile at him, and though I leave the light off, I turn and make my way to his closet, assuring him that there is nothing to be scared of. As I’m reaching for the knob, he tells me there is a boy hiding in there...
To read the entries in their entirety, please visit my Wattpad page.
Would you be able to make it through the night?
15 Rules for Surviving a House of Horrors
1. Don’t panic. Easier said than done. But ghosts, ghouls, killers, monsters, etc., etc., can smell fear. Only the strongest of mind survive.
2. Get out. What’s that? The door won’t open? The knob won’t turn? Unlock the door. Sounds pretty logical, but if you’re in a house of horrors, you probably aren’t thinking straight. Read Rule #1, take a deep breath, and know that most doors lock from the inside.
3. The phone line’s been cut? Your cell phone has no reception? The power is out. Is all of that not enough of a clue to heed Rule #2.
4. Trust no one. Everyone’s a suspect. Be on guard at all times.
5. Do you hear a creak/crack/whisper/rattle/jingle/jangle/pop/insert-your-favorite-creepy-noise-here coming from up- or downstairs? Do not go to investigate it. Simply ignore the noise and read Rule #2.
6. Is that a Ouiji Board on the dining room table? Stay far, far away from it.
7. And speaking of staying away… Steer clear of dolls. So what if they’re cute with smiling faces. If you’re in a house of horrors then they’re pretty much guaranteed to be evil. That little glimmer in their eyes is mere excitement for what will become of you if you don’t follow Rule #2.
8. Something else to stay away from: clowns. Clowns are evil. Enough said.
9. Don’t go up- or downstairs. Read Rule #2.
10. Don’t ever assume that the killer is dead. These guys have nine lives. If he (or she) looks dead, it’s probably just a trick.
11. Don’t ever assume that if you can’t see the killer, he can’t see you. He’s merely watching you from afar, studying your every move.
12. Don’t take a shower. I know. This should be obvious, but we’ve seen enough horror movies where someone’s disrobing and hopping into a steamy shower, haven’t we?
13. Something else that should seem obvious: while inside a house of horrors, do not engage in romance. The end result is never worth it.
14. Pay attention to small children and animals. They’re super-intuitive with respect to ghouls and ghosts and know what they’re talking (or barking) about.
15. While skulking around the house of horrors, should you learn that it was built on some sort of sacred burial ground, heed Rule #2.
Which Dark House character are you?
1. It’s Friday night. Your BFF had family obligations, and so you’re home alone on sofa city. Do you…
a. Call another friend? You have plenty of them after all.
b. Watch Nightmare on Elm Street for the 82nd time?
c. Curl up in bed with a movie or catch up on journaling?
d. Use the time to whip up a batch of your favorite cookies?
e. See if you can put in some extra hours at your part-time job? You could use the extra money.
f. Check out the Woody Allen film fest in town.
2. You’ve been invited to a Halloween party. Do you…
a. Hurry to be first in line at the costume store? You want first pick of all the top choices.
b. Plan your costume out on paper and then do-it-yourself? You already have a lot of the props/make-up/ghoulish gear anyway.
c. Go, but only wear a mask? And the mask is simply so that you can hide yourself while observing the goings-on from a far corner.
d. Politely decline? You hate Halloween.
e. Go, but only for the networking opportunities? You heard the owners of the party house are planning a big graduation party in the spring and you’d love them to hire your band.
f. Go. You heard this is going to be the party of the year. Should be a fun experience.
3. At school, you open your locker only to discover a t-shirt stained with something resembling blood. Do you…
a. Laugh? Someone’s clearly playing a Halloween prank on you.
b. Put it on? It belongs to you, after all.
c. Roll it into a ball and discard it without a word to anyone, wondering all the while how it got into your locker in the first place?
d. Take a deep breath and silently count to ten? Then run to find the nearest administrator. Someone’s clearly got it out for you.
e. Stuff it into your bag and throw it out later? You must’ve brought it to school unknowingly (maybe it belongs to a sibling). The red splotch could be from a paint or food spill.
f. Take a photo of it before turning it over to an administrator, beyond curious as to where it came from.
4. What’s your favorite subject at school?
a. French. You need it for your travels, after all.
b. Art…particularly illustration.
c. English literature, especially the works of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.
d. Math. In math, everything is calculable and measurable, and can therefore be added up. There are no questions without answers.
f. History of film.
5. What’s your go-to at lunchtime?
a. Sushi. You bring it to school yourself, packed in a bento box that coordinates with your backpack.
b. BBQ spareribs (your ultimate fav) if they’re serving them for hot lunch. Otherwise, whatever you can pilfer off a freshman’s plate.
c. Comfort food, brought from home: peanut butter and fluff sandwich, potato chips, orange soda.
d. Spinach and feta pasta salad and granola-sprinkled tapioca pudding for dessert, all made and packed by you (including the granola).
e. Whatever they’re serving for hot lunch. You’re not picky.
f. Whatever your mom has in the deli bin goes between two slices of bread. You also throw in a bag of chips and a power bar.
6. Your history teacher has to go home sick, leaving you with a free block in your schedule. You…
a. Make a beeline for the cafeteria to join the rest of your friends with a free block. There’s so much catching up to do.
b. Leave. So what that you have gym after history today. It’s not like you’d participate anyway.
c. Go to the library. Your favorite study carrel is in the far corner, away from foot traffic.
d. Go to study hall to get a jumpstart on homework.
e. Go to the cafeteria where you can sneak your ear buds and listen to your favorite tunes while attempting homework.
f. Sit outside, under a tree, and get some reading or writing done.
7. School’s out. How do you get home?
a. Someone’s picking you up.
b. Public transportation – either the subway or the bus.
c. School bus. You sit in the back to dodge all the spitballs.
d. You walk, keeping close attention to those around you.
e. You drive. You have your own car (a Pontiac Firebird that you fixed up yourself).
f. You drive. You have your own car (a VW Golf GTI), bought with your own money from a neighbor who went off to college.
If you answered with mostly a’s:
You’re super social, often the life of the party, and appreciate the finer things in life. Always up for an adventure, you love to travel and meet new people.
If you answered with mostly b’s:
You have a dark sense of humor and a penchant for all-things creepy. Sometimes considered a rebel, you are introspective and artistic, though often misunderstood.
If you answered with mostly c’s:
Introverted and secretive, you’re the wallflower of the party rather than the center of attention. Given time to yourself, you like to read, journal, or watch a movie.
If you answered with mostly d’s:
You have definite survival instincts – always aware of your surroundings. With those instincts comes a reluctance to let people get too close. You’re guarded and cautious, often opting to be alone to indulge in some of your favorite interests, i.e. gardening, cooking, baking, reading.
If you answered with mostly e’s:
You have a go-with-the-flow personality type. You don’t clique with any particular group, instead migrating to like personality-types and/or those with interests similar to yours, especially music. You have an amazing work ethic, often choosing what responsibility over fun.
If you answered with mostly f’s:
You’re extremely visual and creative. You gravitate from group to group, but ultimately march to the beat of your own drum. You’re genuinely interested in learning and experiencing all that life has to offer.
Top 10 Items to Survive the Dark House amusement park
If only the Dark House Dreamers had come prepared…
1. Water bottle with built-in purifier
Spending the night in the Dark House amusement park is going to require physical endurance (and therefore proper hydration). From dodging the Nightmare Elf in the underground tunnels to swimming across a sea of flesh-eating eels…make sure you have a full bottle of water with a built-in purifier (in case you find yourself needing to refill).
2. Granola bars (or the like)
Since we’re on the topic of physical endurance, along with proper hydration comes adequate sustenance. You’re going to have to live out your worst ever nightmare, and will therefore need to keep your energy level high. Be sure to bring snacks that are non-perishable, easy to pack, and able to be eaten on the move
A good, strong rope is really key. From creating a ladder of sorts to climb up the gate that surrounds the park, to using it as a makeshift pole to slide down, out the window of Hotel 9, the possibilities are really endless.
Imagine busting through the park gate, using the crowbar as a weapon or makeshift hammer, or prying open the doors of an underground crypt. A crowbar is a no brainer.
The ability to spot the Nightmare Elf across the length of the park would absolutely give you an edge.
6. Night vision glasses
While the amusement park itself is pretty well lit, what’s going to help you in those underground tunnels?
7. Duct tape
We’ve seen duct tape used to make wallets, backpacks, wedding dresses, camping tents, and more. If only some of the Dark House Dreamers had brought along a roll of this wonder stuff on the night of their worst nightmares-come-true.
8. A lighter
While matches aren’t the most reliable (they can get wet, after all, while you’re trying to swim through a pool full of hungry eels), a lighter is a bit more steadfast. The lighter can be used to make a fire that can provide warmth on those cold amusement park nights. It can also be used to make a fire to signal for help.
9. A knife
This one is pretty self-explanatory. A knife can be used as a weapon, a stake, a makeshift hammer, a screwdriver, or a shovel. It can also be used to cut fabric, food, wood, saplings, bandages, rubber, nylon, etc., etc. It can further be used to make the tinder (from bark) to ignite a fire.
From digging oneself out of an underground grave, to using a shovel as a weapon to slay the Nightmare Elf, a shovel should be a staple.
Welcome to the Dark House is now available wherever books are sold.