The Dead House
Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Series: Stand-alone Novel
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 9/15/2015
Source: Borrowed from library
Read All About It:
Welcome to the Dead House.
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.
Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, “the girl of nowhere.”
Kaitlyn’s diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn’t exist, and in a way, she doesn’t – because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.
Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It’s during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary – and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.
I have never read a creepier novel. There were multiple times I found myself holding my breath and anxiously reading to find out what happens next. It was like a horror film where (thankfully) nothing would pop out at me. Normally I enjoy comparing book-to-film adaptations, but if this ever became a movie I would be way too terrified to watch it. The fact it was so terrifying is partially what made this book a thrilling read. I was sucked in by Carly and Kaitlyn’s relationship and how connected they could be even though they only communicate through sticky notes. The mixture of dark magic, mental illness, and death left me guessing what was really true the whole time. Since all of the point-of-views in the book were unreliable narrators, it is impossible to know what the truth is and what is just part of the madness (if anyone is actually crazy).
The format of the book is a police file filled with Kaitlyn/Carly’s journals, Naida’s video logs, police reports, and medical notes from Kaitlyn’s therapist. This format is unlike anything I’ve read, but works to build suspense instead of leaving me confused by the various narrators. By ending the book with unanswered questions, it is left up to the reader to decide what really happened, which can be even scarier than if the answer was given to me. Thanks over-active imagination. Although the book is exceptional I still want to know – what was it really?? This is the question I’m sure me and all other readers will be asking for days.
With horrifying moments that left me making faces at the book and descriptive details occasionally causing the hair on my arms to raise up, this book stuck out to me as a completely new standard that future YA horror books will struggle to live up to. With comparisons being made to Stephan King, I think this debut author has loads of potential that I can’t wait to see in her next books!