In a town in the woods at the top of a hill there’s a house where no one lives, so you take a bag of your big city money there and buy it. But will the house of your dreams turn out to be a nightmare? Well, it’s a paranormal thriller, so that’s not a good sign. Let’s move into Dream House, by Marzia Bisognin.
From YouTube sensation Marzia “CutiePieMarzia” Bisognin comes a debut young adult paranormal thriller about a girl whose dream house quickly becomes a nightmare.
When Amethyst stumbles upon the house of her dreams, she can’t help but be enchanted by it, even if there’s something a little…off about the place.
It’s everything she’s ever wanted in a home, so when the Blooms invite her to stay the night to avoid an impending storm, she instantly accepts.
Yet when she awakes the next morning, alone and unable to bring herself to leave, Amethyst comes face-to-face with unexpected twists and turns—like Alfred, the creepy gardener; Avery, the handsome but secretive neighbor, and a little girl who keeps appearing and vanishing within the house.
As Amethyst searches for the Blooms and tries to unravel the truth, her connection to the house only grows stronger. Will she be able to break free of the house’s allure, or will its secrets keep her trapped forever?
Dream House is fundamentally a haunted house mystery story. Amethyst comes across a house she feels a strange attraction to and begins staying there with the permission of the owners, and soon clearly ghostly shenanigans begin to occur; and Amethyst has to figure out the reason or risk a fate worse than death. The story pretty effectively maintains suspense and tension by making it unclear which characters are alive and which are restless spirits. The homeowners, who are suspiciously quick to welcome a stranger to stay in their house and then mysteriously vanish? The curmudgeonly gardener, who bears a prominent burn scar hinting at a dark past and prefers to keep to himself? The handsome and charming but very enigmatic neighbor, who clearly knows more about what’s going on than he’s willing to say? The young stringy-haired Japanese girl who keeps appearing in Amethyst’s dreams? (Okay, that one’s not so ambiguous). Amethyst herself, in a patented Shyamalan The Sixth Sense twist? I ended up revising my opinions and theories several times throughout the book as new hints and clues came to light.
If the book has a weakness, though, it’s that after it reaches the big reveal, there’s really nowhere left for the story to go. Ultimately, there’s no villain; and once that becomes apparent, all the conflict evaporates. Amethyst doesn’t even have to face a difficult decision about what to do; once it becomes apparent what the situation is, the resolution is treated as a foregone conclusion. As a result, the denouement feels very lacking. It’s aiming to be very powerful and emotional, but it ends up emphasizing just how little we actually know about Amethyst. Her history and her relationships are nearly a blank slate. This caused the emotional climax to kind of fall flat for me. It was a well-executed mystery and reveal, but a great story requires more than that; and on the character front, it stumbles in the end stretch.
Well, it’s not a perfect story, but it’s decent enough. That’ll put a marzipan in your pie plate, bingo.
Final Rating: 3/5