Sunday, 27 October 2013

Series Review - Experiment in Terror by Karina Halle

It's time for my series review, and as it's October, I thought it was an appropriate time to upload my mini-reviews of Karina Halle's fabulous Experiment in Terror series (the first seven books)! :)
Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1)

With all the vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, it's easy to become numb to all things supernatural. The antidote? Darkhouse introduces two real and unforgettable characters, Perry Palomino & Dex Foray, amateur ghost hunters who are "attractive, relatable and oddly heroic," "flawed but loveable," "slightly crazy" and just the most endearing pair to ever tackle the paranormal...just don't call them normal.

Darkhouse is a thrilling and sexy new take on concepts like Supernatural and The X-Files, bringing a breath of fresh air to a genre that has been inundated with the dead.

Perry Palomino feels like her life’s out of her control. At 22 she’s stuck working as a receptionist after studying for a degree she realised last-minute she wasn’t interested in, whilst all her friends have moved onto successful careers. But when her far-more-successful teenage sister asks her to take over her blog for a few days, Perry finds herself an unexpected hit on YouTube when she uploads videos of herself and a mysterious man named Dex as they explored a supposedly haunted old lighthouse the weekend before. When Dex offers her an opportunity to be hosted on his web show, they return to the lighthouse to confront whatever is lurking there – but Dex has secrets of his own…

I absolutely loved this take on the supernatural. It’s been a while since a ghost story really creeped me out, and this managed to scare me with is relatable out giving me nightmares. The easy writing style swept me along, and Perry’s narrative made me laugh on occasion. I love her interactions with Dex. This is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining paranormal read which sets things up nicely for the rest of the series – and it’s free to download!

Rating: ****1/2*

 Red Fox (Experiment in Terror, #2)

With Book Two of the Experiment in Terror Series, Perry Palomino and Dex Foray trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico. 

In the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shapeshift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

Book 2: Red Fox

Perry is jobless and trying to hide it from her parents; and her demonstration of the first episode of her and Dex’s online ghost hunting show didn’t have the impact she hoped for. They travel to New Mexico, where a family is being terrorised by a poltergeist, in the hope of finding a better story, and end up caught up in a dangerous series of events. The local animals are behaving strangely; someone is throwing rocks at the windows in the dead of night; and when Perry and Dex arrive, things only seem to get worse. Perry’s been told before that she’s a ghost-magnet, but put that together with local legend and a family that can’t be trusted, and she might be in over her head…

I really like Perry as a protagonist. She’s self-conscious and awkward, but isn’t annoying. She’s a believable, three-dimensional character, and I love her snarky narration. Dex is as mysterious as ever, although we do get more of an insight into his character in this book. I love the dynamic between them and their almost-romance, and I found it amusing that they had to pretend to be a married couple.

This is a nail-biting read, even more so than the first book! There are legends of creepy animal shifters, suspicious locals and bizarre attacks from wildlife. With great characters and great writing, you can’t go wrong with this!

Rating: ****1/2*

Dead Sky Morning (Experiment in Terror, #3)

With the Experiment in Terror show finding some success, amateur ghost hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray embark on their most terrifying investigation yet. A tiny, fog-shrouded island in the rough strait between British Columbia and Washington State has held a dark secret for decades: It was a former leper colony where over forty souls were left to rot, die and bury each other. Now a functioning campground, Perry and Dex spend an isolated weekend there to investigate potential hauntings but as the duo quickly find out, there is more to fear on D’Arcy Island than just ghosts. The island quickly pits partner against partner, spiraling the pair into madness that serves to destroy their sanity, their relationship and their very lives.

Book 3: Dead Sky Morning

The Experiment in Terror show has taken off in a big way, and now Perry and Dex are off to a creepy island where a leper colony died in horrific conditions. This cheery set-up inevitably leads to a seriously scary experience. Before they even reach the island, we have creepy faces and grabbing hands on the side of the boat – yeek!

Firstly, let me reiterate how much I LOVE the lead characters in this series. They continue to surprise me, and that’s no easy task! Perry is both snarky and vulnerable, and her reaction to hurtful internet comments struck a chord with me. We learn more about both Perry and Dex and, given that they’re alone together on an island, the tension between them inevitably kicks up a notch. There’s some serious chemistry between them despite Dex’s absentee girlfriend, and complications arise.

Meanwhile, there’s the island itself. The historical accounts of sinister happenings barely scratch the surface, and there are some seriously terrifying moments. For their entire ordeal, I was caught up in the heart-racing terror, and I loved it! Karina Halle really knows how to write a scary story, but with romance and humour to balance the nerve-shredding moments. Loved it!

Rating: *****

 Lying Season (Experiment in Terror, #4)

Amateur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has battled ghosts, fought off skinwalkers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she survive bunking down in Seattle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girlfriend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tormented by a malicious spirit from Dex's increasingly shady past? With love and life in the balance, Perry must discover the truth among the lies or risk losing everything she's ever cared about.

Book 4: Lying Season

After reading this, I hate wasps even more than I already did! *shudder*

Things are decidedly awkward when Perry and Dex decide to film an episode of their show in Dex’s hometown, and Perry ends up having to stay with him and his girlfriend. They have to battle their growing attraction to each other as well as the terrifying ghosts of the local mental institute – where Dex himself spent a dark time in his life. As a shadowy figure from the past makes an appearance, both have to confront the ghosts of the past and present.

I can’t get enough of Karina Halle’s writing. She can create a fabulously gripping horror story with real emotional depth. I adore all the characters in this series - well, I hate Jenn, but she’s just as complex and troubled as the others. Perry and Dex are as awesome as ever, and Perry gets more of an insight into Dex’s past. This book took me on an emotional ride, that’s for sure! I’m officially addicted to this series, and with an ending like that…well, I’ll have to pick up the next one, now!

Rating: *****

 On Demon Wings (Experiment in Terror, #5)
When the life you wanted has crumbled beneath your fingers, there’s nothing left to do but pick up the pieces and soldier on. You’ve done this before.

But what happens when you no longer feel like yourself anymore? When fires spontaneously start-up around you, when you hear growling coming from underneath your bed, and you no longer recognize your face in the mirror. What happens then?

Ghost-hunter Perry Palomino doesn’t have much time to find out. Now, the evil she used to hunt is a lot closer to home. It’s inside of her, taking over her life bit-by-terrifying bit, and there’s only one person who can help her. 

If part of her doesn’t kill him first.

Book 5: On Demon Wings

Perry’s in a bad way, and after quitting the show, she’s had to take a job in a coffee shop. But even though she’s no longer hunting ghosts, something evil is after her, and horrifying things start to break into her normal life. Meanwhile, there are gaps in her memory, and she starts to fear that there’s something dark inside her that’s slowly taking control.

Holy wow. This book was a shocker in more than one way, and I could never have predicted the way things would turn out. I write about demonic possession and this freaked me out! I also like that we got more of an insight into Perry’s family, and she and Ada have some great moments in this book.

This was an intense, heart-wrenching read, and I loved it. The plot twists are unexpected, the writing is gripping, and the scary moments are at full effect. Poor Perry goes through some trauma, that’s for sure! I was completely glued to the pages.  I need the next book now!

Rating: *****

Into the Hollow (Experiment in Terror, #6)

Perry Palomino has fought her demons – and won – but the battle is far from over. She’s now left broken and on her own, leaving behind her life and family in Portland to focus on giving Dex Foray – and the Experiment in Terror show – a second chance. But their past mistakes continue to tease and test their relationship, as does the wild and desolate terrain of the Canadian Rockies.

The snow-covered peaks and ravenous forests hide an urban legend too unbelievably frightening to be true and the only way the duo has a chance of surviving is if Perry can let in the very man who sent her to hell and back.

Book 6: Into the Hollow

Perry and Dex attempt to patch up their relationship and put past events behind them as they head off in search of a Sasquatch-like monster in the Canadian mountains. Perry has been forced to move in with Dex to avoid putting her family at risk again, but she’s even more reluctant to open her heart to him after he betrayed her.

 This book has everything I love about the Experiment In Terror series – fabulous characters, humour, terrifying moments, and emotions that tear at the heart. In all of these, Into the Hollow delivers!

It’s hard not to give away spoilers here! Dex and Perry continue to develop as characters. Both have been through hell, and they’re struggling to find their way. I love their interactions – by turns hilarious and heart-wrenching. Karina Halle knows how to write a great romance between two deeply flawed, psychologically complex characters. The dialogue is great, and even after everything that’s happened. Perry and Dex have this great verbal play.

Then there’s the scary monster in the snow. All I can say is: I am never camping on a snowy mountain. Not that I’d ever do that anyway…

Bring on the next book! I can’t get enough of this series!

Rating: *****

Come Alive (Experiment in Terror, #7)

 It’s one thing to bring the woman you love back into your life. It’s another to try and keep her there. For Dex Foray, con­vinc­ing Perry Palomino to open her­self to their bur­geon­ing rela­tion­ship has been more chal­leng­ing than hunt­ing ghosts, bat­tling demons and stalk­ing Sasquatch com­bined. Add in the fact that the only way they can keep their Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror show run­ning is to take on a third part­ner in the form of the mys­te­ri­ous Max­imus Jacobs — all while inves­ti­gat­ing a sin­is­ter voodoo sect in New Orleans — and you’ve got the per­fect South­ern storm and a recipe for dis­as­ter. Luck­ily, Dex has never been one to back down, even when his life –and heart — are on the line.

Book 7: Come Alive

In the seventh book in Karina Halle’s Experiment in Terror series, we get Dex’s perspective as he and Perry are forced to partner up with someone they’re both less than fond of in order to investigate a voodoo cult in New Orleans. Once again, it’s hard not to give spoilers! Suffice to say that Halle manages once again to combine a thrilling storyline with romance, emotion, humour and jump-out-of-your-seat moments.

Zombies never fail to creep me out, so this one’ll be haunting me for a while! I love that each book’s storyline is unique and that the characters and their relationships continue to evolve over the course of the series. With Dex’s POV, we get an insight into his slightly warped, hilarious mind, as well as a fantastic story. This is another page-turner and once again, I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: *****

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