The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Pages: 432
Source: internship
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Debut author Dawn Kurtagich is dead on in this terrifying psychological thriller!
Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy - only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace...
...until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.
But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn't exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?
The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.
The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known. --Goodreads
Twenty years after the fire, in the scorched remains of Elmbridge High school, a diary was recovered.  The case has been reopened and readers will get a chance to read police interviews, video transcripts, diary entries and more to figure out what truly happened so many years ago.

This is one of the creepiest books I have ever read.  It begins with a curse, inviting readers to continue at their own risk.  The spine-chilling plot only delves deeper into the dark as it moves on.  Dawn Kurtagich created a masterful debut novel that will surely give readers nightmares.

Especially with this kind of story, the protagonist, Carly and Kaitlyn, is the best type of narrator to have: unreliable.  Reading their diary entries—mainly Kaitlyn’s—readers are able to understand everything but can believe nothing.  As the story progresses, I wanted to believe Kaitlyn, to support her on this journey through the quest to find her sister and, also, her mind. 

The diary entries are not the only thing readers are exposed to.  Out of chronological order—which made for some flipping back between pages and date checking—the video transcripts and interviews tell the story in the best way possible.  If this was written in a traditional format, the connection between Kaitlyn and other characters would not have been as strong.  Kurtagich is a true genius to piece this paranormal mystery in the way she has.

Much like the protagonist, readers are unable to decipher what happened in the past.  Kurtagich leaves clues as the characters themselves figure it out.  The anticipation of knowing what truly happened built up, similar to the reality of what Kaitlyn’s house became.  This story is not just about a girl who has an identity disorder, it is about a girl who will stop at nothing to find her missing sister.  On this level, readers can easily relate to Kaitlyn

Nadia was another character which readers will be able to identify with.  She is the perfect best friend: kind, forgiving, and supportive.  Her story was the most shocking, I didn’t see it coming.  Kurtagich ran through the end scenes; it happened so fast and then it was over which is both realistic and terrifying at the same time. 

As brilliant as The Dead House is, it is unbelievably gruesome and definitely for an older YA audience.  This novel will have you reading up late at night, watching for shadows in the dark and huddling deeper into the cocoon of your blankets.  The Dead House is certainly not a book for the faint of heart.

Also read my interview with Dawn Kurtagich.

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  1. OOooh nice! My copy just arrived today and I can't wait to read it! May be bumping up in my reading queue sooner rather than later! Great review!