Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1)

Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1) - Karina Halle 4 stars2nd reading: April 2013I upped my rating by 1/5 star to 4 full stars, mostly because this series holds up so well throughout! I appreciate that in a series.Love, love, love the characters. Perry Palomino is full of spunk and yet she's got so many self-image and worth issues; I love how she wants to be "special" somehow. Don't we all? In this book, Perry finds her "calling", even though it scares her almost to death. She's starting to come to terms with the weirdness of her life... realizing that her imaginary childhood friends and enemies and her drug use in her teen years might have been more than it all appears to be. Dex is an enigma... does he see and hear ghosts, too? How much like Perry is he? Why does the Creepy Clown Lady know Dex and what does she say to him?Are Dex and Perry being "guided" into pure evil and horror? Or to some sort of salvation - a salvation that they can only find in one another?The creepiness and evil of the dark house in the title isn't completely resolved. Yes, resolution happens. But we never quite know the story of Old Roddy or the lighthouse/dark house... except as we've heard and seen it from Dex, Perry, Uncle Al, and Perry's day-mares and dreams.Quite an opening book!================1st reading: March 19, 20133.5+ starsHard to rate or categorize this book... It's not what I'd call "horror" - more like scary, frightening... but it's filled with ghostly images, paranormal happenings, dreams, and mystic events.Perry is a 22 year old still trying to figure out her life. She's got a degree in advertising, yet she's only a receptionist at an ad agency. She feels as if she's going nowhere. Her past is troubled: she has a history of drugs, minor skirmishes with the law, and strange behavior - strange enough for a shrink and family counseling. In high school, she was mostly a loner - overweight, insecure, and always the "friend" and not the "girlfriend". Perry's lost weight, but she still has a distorted body image; she's not stick-thin and she's short, so she'll never be model material.What's a bit frustrating is that Perry obviously has an "in" on the psychic front. She has recurring dreams about lights and ghosts and... lighthouses? Spooky and strange. But instead of realizing that this is some sort of psychic ability and owning it, she's afraid she's losing her sanity. But Perry's miserable enough in her life and her skin that she finds herself seeking out the strange. Like investigating the old lighthouse on her uncle's property in the middle of the night rather than hang out with her 15 year old sister Ada, two 19 year old male cousins, and their friends by a bonfire. No, Perry wants to check out the lighthouse - alone, in the dark.Perry stumbles into Declan "Dex" Foray, who's trespassing with a movie camera inside the lighthouse. Dex is trying to capture footage for a new interweb show on something called Shownet. Instead of TV shows, Shownet produces low-budget web shows, including the popular Wine Babes, featuring Dex's drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend Jennifer.While in the lighthouse, Perry and Dex hear and see some very strange things - things that make them run from the lighthouse. But Dex decides that Perry might be an "in" with her uncle to get back to the lighthouse and film more for this pilot that he wants to create - something on the paranormal. Not Ghost Hunters, but similar. Perry is attracted to the 32-year old Dex - he's sexy and creepy at the same time. So she agrees to arrange her uncle's permission and return to the lighthouse with Dex the next weekend.Dex and Perry are still getting to know one another. It's obvious that Dex has his own dark secrets, insecurities, and hang ups. Will Perry ever be able to get underneath and know Dex?While at the lighthouse this time, Perry seems to be the magnet to freaky sights, sounds, and happenings. Unfortunately, often, Perry's the only one who can see and hear them. But a late night trip turns into a real experiment in terror when Dex and Perry encounter Old Roddy, the ghost lightkeeper, in the kelp/flesh, so to speak. Floods, fire, near death... explosions... all kinds of stuff happens. Old Roddy tells Perry that "she's the one" he's waited for. What does that even mean? Perry doesn't know.In the aftermath, Perry and Dex have to come up with something to tell the firefighters, police, Uncle Al, and Perry's parents. Then Dex puts together the footage, along with the story of what happened to them (written by Perry). Dex shows it to his boss, Jimmy Kwan. Jimmy pushes each of Perry's insecurity buttons, but Dex stands up to him and gets the go-ahead for more shows. Perry will be paid minimum wage for exactly the hours she puts in.But will anyone believe their tale? Will Perry be able to keep her promotion at the ad agency and only work part-time, with weekends free to shoot for the new show?=============So much about this book and its characters get into my head. I relate to Perry in a lot of ways, constantly battling weight and self-image issues. I understand living too much in your head. But I get frustrated with Perry because she can't see her "ability"; she's so worried about being crazy or weird, that she can't make it work for her, rather than against her. But it's enough to attract Dex - he needs Perry to make all of this happen. And despite their 10 year age difference, there's definite chemistry between them.I was glad to find out that Dex also saw and knew the Crazy Clown Lady... but who is she? What is she really telling these two? Is she good or evil?It's all very confusing and somewhat frustrating. But this story definitely has me on the edge and wanting more. Since this is the 1st book and it was a freebie, I'm more than happy to move on to book #2 to find out more.