I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
on September 15th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Horror & Ghost Stories, People & Places, Europe, Social Issues, Depression & Mental Illness
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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.
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich is a book which I read to satisfy a craving for reading a book comprised of found documents after falling for Illuminae earlier in 2015. Aside from knowing about the found documents, I had no clue really what to expect from The Dead House going in. I found Kurtagich’s debut to be an okay read with demons and possession, a story well suited to fans of The Exorcist and The Merciless. Personally, I was not 100% impressed, but I’ll admit that I thought the book was relatively not a terrible way to spend the morning of my New Year’s eve.
Kurtagich’s The Dead House is about these two girls – Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson. Both girls inhabit the same body. You see, Carly Johnson has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, which her doctor believes has arisen from the trauma of her parents dying suddenly. This book opens up with a newspaper article where we read about this incident where there’s a fire at a school — Elmbridge, and multiple students have died. After the article, there are excerpts from Kaitlyn and Carly’s journal as well as interviews with various characters and transcripts of videos.
The journals are set for 2005 and as readers, we are presuming that it is 2025 and the journals and case file, which is essentially what The Dead House is, has been found. Throughout the book, there is the question of whether Carly/Kaitlyn is a product of dissociative identity disorder or if it is something more sinister – like demonic possession. In addition, there is the question of who is the real personality – is it Carly or is it Kaitlyn? In all – those are some intriguing questions which remained unanswered – at least to me – as I turned the last page of The Dead House.
The characters in The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich are not like wonderful and amazing write home about them sorts of characters. Actually, they’re all kind of weird and people I would probably side eye in real life — like that time I went to Barnes & Noble and saw a guy just waltzing about with a top hat on. I know, I know, I am an awful person. But, okay, for one thing, one of the characters in this book wears a bowler hat. Another character is a guy with a ponytail and a beard and well, that’s kind of not my style. Also, Carly has only one friend — Naida who is way into the occult. Also, Kaitlyn only comes out at night, and she’s all into darkness to the point of being a stereotype – she loves hanging out in graveyards and reading Edgar Allen Poe.
I will come out and say that probably my lack of fear while reading this horror book comes from the fact that it is centered around demons. I don’t believe in demons and I just did not find the horror compelling enough to be scary. I mean — we learn about dark magic and how the teens get sucked into it, sort of. And, I sort of picture myself where if I was a character in The Dead House, I would probably be the villain who ends up dead for cracking jokes about these people taking pretend things like demons so seriously. I mean, I guess it was interesting how none of the kids had a healthy dose of skepticism. Or, I would probably react more like the video below. Suffice to say — given my personality style, it just was hard for me to really get into the fear atmosphere of this book, too much of my time was spent eye rolling.
As much as I maybe am not a fan of the horror in The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich because it did not scare me or make me nervous in the slightest, I did find the narrative style to be well suited to the book. I thought that the found footage and casefile documentation of The Dead House was on point. Kurtagich’s book is well paced and rarely feels like there is a drag or boring. I read this 400 page book in essentially two days. I would recommend The Dead House to readers who are into books about possession and who don’t roll their eyes over the occult.
Other Reviews of The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich:
The Perpetual Page Turner – “creepy, dark and sinister”
Jenn’s Bookshelves – “You won’t be able to tear yourself away”
My Friends Are Fiction – “brilliantly and wonderfully WEIRD”
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