The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on September 15, 2015
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Young Adult, Mystery
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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 had my eye on this book for like, a year. The title alone had me interested, then the cover and synopsis helped seal the deal. I couldn’t wait to read it! So I finally did, and I was not disappointed.
I curse anyone who reads this book.
If you touch it, Hell will be waiting.
Screw you. Happy reading.
This book was AWESOME. I found very little I didn’t like about it, and I was easily able to just accept those things because of how much I enjoyed everything else. So, Carly and/or Kaitlyns story is told to us through a couple of different ways…
First of all, we bounce forward and back a little over the course of the events, and then there is a large time jump. It is actually pretty interesting the way she laid out the story line, with the actual event having happened in 2004/2005 and then following up all the way in the end of 2016. It makes me wonder why she chose that specific time frame and jump…. hmmm. A question I will be sure to ask if I ever have the chance! (Dawn Kurtagich, if you are reading this, please fill me in.)
Secondly, we experience the story through a series of journal entries and notes, emails, police records/interviews, video clips that have been transcribed, and session with a psychiatrist. I love when stories are told in this format, they seem to add an layer of intrigue.
Also, this book has so AMAZING quotes throughout it, and it is extremely hard to narrow down which ones to use in this review. Ugh.
Im the thing in the dark, just like the Viking used to tell me. Im the creature coming up from the basement, the thing under the bed. I have nothing to fear in the dark. I am the dark.
It was dark inside Kaitlyn’s mind, for sure. Very dark. She is a completely unreliable narrator. But the way her thoughts and feelings were described were almost poetic; it was often so deeply dark and beautiful that I found myself actually feeling it with Kaitlyn. That aspect may be my favorite thing about this book. I love when I can feel what the characters is going through, it makes me much more attached to the character. As for Carly, well we know much less about her, and I prefer Kaitlyn anyway, she has much more depth, it seems… though that could be because we dug into her so much deeper. So basically I just loved Kaitlyn, I wanted to reach into the darkness and save her.
Something else I really loved about this book is how it took the turn from psychological thriller into slightly paranormal. The “thing” about the sisters in this book has been done quite a bit in books I have read lately, but usually you don’t find out until the end of the book. In this case, we knew it the whole time. Then, it took the psychological and turned it on us, as if to say “What if the craziness you thought you could explain, you suddenly couldn’t, with it having no roots in the medical sense? What if it was something else completely?”
Some people say that night blooms. But night descends self-consciously. Night cuts slowly.
The only things I can say I didn’t like about this book probably have to do with the back story. Like, way back. Like many novels where the protagonist experiences a trauma of some kind, they block it out, can’t remember the events, and are always instructed to let the memories come back on their own, without anyone helping or telling them. So Kaitlyn and Carly have this past event that left them where they are when our story starts off. I waited FOREVER to find out what happened, but the “story” we got was from someone else, an old friend, and it just wasn’t fulfilling. At that moment, it seemed so unimportant, and almost like a lie. It seemed like a big enough deal that it would be more relevant to the story, but it wasn’t. That really bothered me. But I guess in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t super important…
Also, I have to admit the story left me wanting more. Not necessarily in a bad way, but wanting more none the less. The end of the big event was quite creepy and mysterious!
There is blood, and death, and ghosts, and the darkness of a fragile mind. Everything about this was depressing and eerie, and at moments even sad and shocking. I absolutely loved it.