Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Genre: Young Adult // Mystery // Horror
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2015
Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .
Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.
Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?
Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you've finished reading (goodreads).
One thing's for sure, you won't be able to believe anything you've read once you put this book down!
Plot: From the getgo, I knew that this was going to be a weird book. You may think that this book would have a clear plot twist, that there is something that can explain all of the weirdness happening at the school. Nope, from day one we are introduced to Carly and Kaitlyn, two people who exist within the same body. Somehow, Carly gets the day and Kaitlyn gets the night. As all good things go bump in the night, Kaityn starts to notice little changes in her surroundings and in Carly. The end result is a confusing half conclusion that will make you reflect on every character interaction and what you know about these characters.
The format is definitely engaging. The Dead House is told in a non-linear format and told through diary entries, patient files, and surveillance footage. This makes the overall atmosphere very chilling and spooky, unfortunately for me, I never really got scared while reading The Dead House. Confused yes, but not scared or shocked.
Characters: While Katilyn and Carly share the same body, Kaitlyn gets 99% of the "screen time" so the speak. There is a hodge-podge group that gets together to help solve the mystery, and oddly I felt that none of the male characters were fleshed out. The female characters, Kaitlyn, Kaitlyn's psychologist, and best friend Naida, felt much more involved in the than mystery than the male characters did.
Kaitlyn is a great unreliable narrator. Her diary entries are sometimes just streams of consciousness or sometimes responses to nothing that was never addressed previously in the book. Just when you think you've got a handle on what's going on, Kurtagich, through Kaitlyn, will through you for a loop!
World Building: The Dead House is unique because it creates this creepy atmosphere through unconventional storytelling. Surprisingly, a lot of landscapes have been covered in this small British town and the video surveillance footage helped give The Dead House depth.
Short N Sweet: The Dead House is not a book that you want to miss out on during this Halloween season, especially if you're okay with never knowing what's happening.