Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Stripes Publishing (10th Sept 2015)
When Darla and her feckless dad, Hopper, move to Saffron Hills, Darla hopes it'll be a new start for the both of them. But she stands no chance of fitting in with the image-obsessed in-crowd at her new school. Then one of her classmates is brutally killed when taking a photo of herself. A murder Darla herself predicted in a bloody vision. When more teens die in a similar fashion it appears that a serial killer is on the loose - the 'Selfie Slayer'. Darla alone is convinced that the murderer might not be flesh and blood..
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Part of me doesn’t actually want to write this review, because it means that I’ll be closing the gap in the #RedEye series which has brought us 5 very different, individualistic and great books that have lent a tremendous hand in reviving the horror genre in YA. I’ve been involved with Stripes Publishing from the start in promoting this series, but I didn’t expect to become this attached to all the books and the ride I’ve been on since January of this year. As a firm lover of all things horror, I couldn’t be any happier to be part of the efforts that Stripes Publishing and all these amazing authors have been involved in, to bring back the horror genre in reading. There are very few true horror books out there, especially in the YA category; most that are marketed as such involve paranormal elements such as vampires or wolves or fairies that push the boundary into fantasy, but the #RedEye series has been great in focusing simply on the paranormal and pure, simple horror without added elements to take away from the real story.
Enough of my rambling, I just felt like I had to get that all off my chest *holds back a choke* it has simply been a pleasure, tis all. Now, onto the review we go!
At first glance, this book isn’t what you’d expect, I feel like I should kinda put that out there. Given the premise of the book, the cover art, and my own imagination, I had an idea in my mind of how this book would go and that revolved around this “selfie slayer” character. Essentially, death by selfie. By vanity. But let me just say, that the selfie slayer itself isn’t actually a character and truth be told, I’m relieved about that, because as open minded as I can be, I won’t lie, I don’t think I could seriously get on board with a villain going by that aesthetic - it would feel waaaaay too cheesy for me and ruin the horror vibe I’m expecting.
That aside, I really enjoyed the way this book turned out and I’m glad it didn’t go as I had it planned in my head, instead it was better. We have a strong host of characters but even more so, a plot driven story that was well balanced in how it gave enough time to both characters and events. Character development is so vital in every story, and especially for me, I think in horror genres even more because so often it can happen that characters are blurred into the background in order to give more screen time to actual events - but I felt like Becker did a wonderful job in Dark Room to keep both at the forefront and getting to see Darla develop cinched this book for me.
Getting to see a lot of what happens through Darla’s point of view and alternating swiftly with other characters moments before their death, worked really well for this story I felt. It meant that the story didn’t fall too heavily on just one perspective and instead we get glimpses of the to-be-victims, almost as if we’re seeing the premonition ourselves as to who will die next. I enjoyed this aspect and I’m glad Becker did it in such a well thought out manner.
I’m not much of a fan of gore in movies or in books to be honest, slasher isn’t really my thaaaang, so I’m glad that in Dark Room at least the buildup to the story and events was more sinister rather than blood-soaked, gore just for the sake of gore just really puts me off anything and everything. Instead I enjoy the subtle buildup of horror, the air and atmosphere which really hackles your chains, and there’s a whole lot of that in this book.
As you’re reading this, you’re inevitably going to start guessing as to who the murderer is, it’s a given. But let me just tell you, just when you think you’ve got it figured out, you’ll be wrong, again and again. Becker misleads you so often, making you think subtly as to who it might be, only to be like, HAAA, GOTCHYA, WRONG AGAIN! Frustrating? Perhaps, but works so well for this story and really does keep you on your toes. That being said though, once you find out who it is, if you flip back through the book and re-read it (I did this actually and went through so many chapters) only to find hints of foreshadowing that foretold the end to this book. I applaud you for this Becker, well played.
There are a few things that I felt could have been improved to really give this the 5 star rating I wanted it to have, and that revolves around the ending, and partially Darla’s premonitions. I feel like the promotions and her reaction to them, the way she deals with them could have been handled somewhat better, a little bit more development on that aspect of her character would have made all the difference. As for the ending, the final 1/4 of the book felt somewhat rushed to me, with things playing out quicker than I wanted it to. Pacing it out would have worked wonders for the final conclusion.
Nonetheless, as the final book in the #RedEye series, I really did enjoy it and all the other books too, the reviews for which can be found here - Frozen Charlotte, Sleepless, Flesh and Blood and Bad Bones. There’s also an author interview and guest post with the author Tom Becker, which can be found hereeeee and just for your benefit, some extra links which I know you’ll want to click, so just go ahead and do it.
The other books in the #RedEye series can be found on this site, and for an extra special treat, check out the Terror Tree site where all 5 authors from the series will be discussing their books and much much more!
Thank you as always to Stripes Publishing and all the wonderful authors involved in this series, who have done a wonderful job in bringing this fresh and exciting series to the table and I implore you all to pick these books up, perfect in time for Halloween ;)
Finally, follow @Stripesbooks on twitter for more dosages of horror.