Review: The Dead House

by Dawn Kurtagich

Pages: 440
Publisher: Indigo (Hachette Children's Group)
Publication Date: August 2015
Received From:  (Hachette Children's Group)


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’?


When I originally picked this book up I didn't know what to expect, sure it sounded interesting but it wasn't my usual read. For example, it's not set around a love story which is every rare for YA so I was curious how it would unfold. However, this book has turned out to be one of my favourite books of all time! I could not put it down. It's effortless to read and it so brilliantly sculpted... Ah I don't even have words for The Dead House's epicness.

No words but I do have a gif... or two

The Dead House is about a girl named Carly, who 20 years ago, was involved in a fire that left 3 dead and 1 missing. Carly hasn't been seen since the fire that engulfed the boarding school she was staying at and this book is the case file of that case. It's written in diary entries, police interviews, transcripts and even the odd post-it note, with each piece of evidence telling a little bit more of Carly's story. But here's what makes it REALLY interesting, Carly has D.I.D (Dissociative Identity Disorder). Carly is just one personality and she gets the day, Kaitlyn is her second alter and she gets the night. Kaitlyn is the darker of the two and it's her actions that leave you wanting more. Two souls, one body. But is Carly ill or is there more going on? Well... you'll just have to read and find out!

Okay time to get my fangirl on!!!

I think the reason I fell in love with this book as much as I did was entirely down to our protagonist Kaitlyn. Even without the Carly alter she is so incredibly complex and well written. She felt real to me and in a way relatable. I love all of her broken pieces and the deterioration of her sanity throughout the book only makes me love her more. 

When reading you are left with more questions than answers but I really liked that fact that the author left a lot open to interpretation. There is no such thing as black and white with this book, it's all a sticky grey area and it draws you in. The paranormal twist on the story adds another dimension to an already intense book and I just loved it! I couldn't guess what was coming next and it made me keep turning the page until the early hours of the morning!

I don't want to go into too much detail as it will spoil it, but if there is only one book you read this year make sure it's this one. In a Q&A I had with Dawn she said, 'I had no real idea where the book was taking me until I finally did reach the end.' Which shows throughout the book. There is no contrite information or obvious clues left along the way. We learn what happened as Dawn did and I think that makes the story even more special. 

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