The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // A dark story up to interpretation

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // A dark story up to interpretationThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Orion Children's Books on August 6th 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal (YA), Mental Health, Mystery (YA)
Pages: 440

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.

This book is incredibly difficult to review, especially in my traditional sectioned format. So, I’m scrapping that and I’m just going to dive into my thoughts.

The novel is written in a format similar to Illuminae. It’s a collection of journal entries, interviews, transcribed video recordings, all put together as a police case file. You’ll read through it seeing “notes” from the investigation and side explanations of going-ons. While this format didn’t work for me in Illuminae (or Gemina), I enjoyed it in The Dead House. This mainly has to do with the fact that the plot was more straight forward (sort of, but we’ll get to that later) and that the journal entries allowed you a first-person insight into Kaitlyn’s (the main characters) mind. Ultimately, I ended up caring about Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn is the main character in this story. She has a very disturbed mind and at times is in a deep depression. She’s probably not a character you will relate with or fully understand, but she is a character that draws you in. It’s definitely hard to explain her without going into detail, so I’ll just say that Kurtagich did a great job creating her character.

There is a romance in this, but it’s not a focus at all. I never fell for it or felt any real romantic connection. However, that may have been Kurtagich’s point. Creating this type of romance forces you to pay more attention to the mystery and the psychology of the book instead. 

As for the plot itself, it’s definitely left up to interpretation. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I can’t say much about it. What I will say is that while the book does have an actual ending, it leaves it up to the reader to decide how/why the events transpired. Certain character’s fates are left as somewhat of a mystery, some of the paranormal aspects are left as a question of reality, and will leave you with a few theories at the end. There are some points that I found to be predictable, but I’ve also watched a lot of horror movies. Overall, though, I enjoyed the story.

I know there isn’t a whole lot of detail in this review, but it’s a book that is incredibly difficult to review without spoilers. If you like psychological/horror/thrillers and like when you can interpret things yourself, then I do recommend this book!

Rating Report
Overall: 4 / 5

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3 thoughts on “The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // A dark story up to interpretation

  1. I completely agree! This was such an intelligently written story and I loved how thought-provoking it was. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    1. Thank you so much! And yes! I agree. I did a group read with friends for it and once we all finished it was interesting to talk about our theories and all the unanswered questions 🙂

  2. I’ve been meaning to read this for so long! I read Dawn Kurtagich’s latest release and really enjoyed it so I’m interested to see how I’ll feel about this one. I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Awesome review ♥