The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
YA ∴ Horror ∴ Fantasy > Paranormal ∴ Mental Health
Published August 2nd 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published September 15th 2015)
Paperback ∴ 401 pages
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.
This was one wild ride. I do think it took a little bit for the story to get going, but once it did, it was hard to put down.
Written as assembled diary entries, audio logs, and transcribed video footage, The Dead House follows a girl with assumed dissociative identity disorder. Carly is awake during the day, and at dusk, Kaitlin comes out. I admit, I thought they were twins at first, because I didn’t remember the summary, but it was cleared up really quick.
The scariest part for me was seeing Kait start to believe that her diary, whom she calls Dee, is manifesting as a shadowy girl with scary teeth. The way she writes in her diary, “Dee… is it you? If it’s you, please stop smiling at me,” “Dee, I wish you could hold me. Don’t touch me,” sent shivers up my spine. Kurtagich throws those little bits in there and it just helped to keep the creepiness going through the whole book. I’m shuddering just thinking about it. I spent a lot of the book gasping audibly and saying “OOOOOO!!!” a lot. Some of the diary pages are so creep just to look at, where one of the girls would write the same thing over and over and over again. This book is so incredibly easy to visualize what’s going on. I immediately tossed it at my coworker to read because she likes the same things I do. There are a few pretty graphic and violent scenes, but they don’t come around until the last third of the book. I love the fact that there are warnings throughout the book that say you shouldn’t read on or that it’s cursed. I think it’s a fun touch compared to all the terror that happens throughout.
Would I recommend?: Yes. Most definitely. This book was soooo hard to put down and it was so unsettling and I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I finally did put it down. It’s got ghosts, multiple personalities, some gore, and lots and lots of spoops.