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.
I’ve been participating in the #redeyereadalong on Goodreads, and this is the last book in the series, read during the week 26th October 2015 – 31st October 2015.
I joined in the readalong with mixed feelings as I am a bit of a novice horror reader – I tend to be a trifle scared of reading frightening stories – but astonishingly I have found it really fun and totally enthralling throughout. I whipped through those pages reading five books in super quick, heartbeat time! There have been moments when certain passages I’ve read have turned my stomach, or left me hugging my duvet for comfort but it has been such a positive experience overall. So thank you so much to Chelley who blogs at Tales of Yesterday and Heather from Heather Reviews for including me in this readalong.
My overall favourites are without a doubt, Frozen Charlotte from week 1 and this final book Dark Room from Week 5! So the best were first and last as far as I was concerned!
Dark Room certainly started off dark and sinister and that’s a fact. The Prologue tells the tale of Walter West, a rich young chap, but don’t be fooled this, he is no sweet boy next door! If you are friends with Walter West and you’re young and pretty, don’t pop over to visit, well not unless you want to be viciously murdered.
In Chapter 1 we are introduced to the main protagonist a sixteen year old girl called Darla whose life has been hard, with a capital H, she certainly hasn’t had a fairy-tale existence. Her dad hopper is a drunken, hopeless fellow who runs from one unhappy experience to another. Her mother Sidney killed herself. Darla runs away from yet another bout of trouble with her dad Hopper to Saffron Hills. She finds that Saffron Hills has its fair share of beautiful people, is obsessed with looking good, and is home to the Miss Saffron beauty pageant. Not exactly a place to make Darla feel at home as she is a fairly plain looking girl.
There are a bunch of mysteries to solve in this book so at times it came across more like a murder mystery than a horror story. Though there are elements of horror in Dark Room, the visions that Darla experiences are certainly horrible, and this sense of terror is amplified by Darla having no control over these frightening and disturbing visions. As the story unfolds she starts to try to take control of these visions, but more about that later…
Darla meets with her artistic neighbour Annie, who befriends Darla and Hopper. Annie is a fascinating character too with a hidden aspect to her personality that is revealed later in the novel.
When more beautiful kids are killed Darla’s personality changes, she becomes this courageous kid investigating, trying to stop another murder from being committed. That’s when I really started to love Darla, undoubtedly she is the best character in the book, the one that you can’t help but root for.
Photography is used in a creative way as a device in this book, to reveal the next murder, but is also used to suggest the nastiness of the beautiful crowd. In one particular scene TJ takes a selfie with Darla to ridicule her and other plain girls like her. Natalie, Gabrielle, Ryan, TJ, Carmen are beautiful on the outside, but inside they are mean, unlikable, thoughtless bullies. That is not a criticism of the book, the beautiful kids are meant to be portrayed this way, a message is intended to come across. Beauty is more than outward appearance it is what you hold in your heart. The cruel message finally gets through to one of the beautiful kids, who eventually turns over a new leaf.
Darla’s friend Sasha is an interesting but flawed character. She is pretty but in a non-conformist, punk style of way. She is also quite unlikable, and comes across as pretty uncaring, and glib, until one of the kids who she is secretly fond of in the beautiful clique gets murdered. Frank appears to be Sasha’s errand boy, but even Frank has a side of him that is kept a mystery.
So a very intriguing story, full of mysteries, secrets, it kept me wondering, guessing… I guessed the murderer then I changed my mind, then I guessed again… Lots of excitement.
The ending was good but perhaps a bit far fetched so instead of a 5 star read I’ve reduced it by half a star!
Would I recommend reading this?
Absolutely, if you can stomach it! The murders are visually gruesome, made me flinch in parts but nevertheless I found Dark Room very absorbing. So go out and get a copy… Just don’t do any selfies for a while…
Warning: Not For Younger Readers.
Bye for now.
Do comment I’d love to hear your opinions. Have you read Dark Room or any of the other books in the #redeye series?
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx