{Bieke Reviews} The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Posted October 5, 2015 by Bee in Reviews / 8 Comments

{Bieke Reviews} The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

The Dead House

by Dawn Kurtagich
Pages: 440
Published on August 6th 2015
by Orion Children's Books
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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.

5 Stars

I don’t even know what just happened. My brain is in knots and I don’t quite know what to say right now. But damn. I don’t read a lot of horror. In fact, this month I’ll probably be reading more horror than I have in my whole life. Partly because I’m a wuss. No, not partly. I’m a wuss, that’s why I don’t read horror. And yeah, most people think about blood and body counts in horror. To me a good horror is one that creeps under your skin and haunts you. That’s what this one does. It’s insane. And so very good.

Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins. It belonged to Carly’s identical twin sister, Kaitlyn. But Carly didn’t have a twin… This story, told through diary entries, interview transcripts, video footage transcripts and medical reports, reveals the events leading up to what became known as the Johnson Incident.

I’m saying this right of the bat, this book is very original and new to me. I loved the way it was told, in this found-footage style. In movies, it’s getting really old and is often done entirely wrong and lazy, but in this book it was brilliant. The narration is very unreliable because of it, causing me to have no idea what will happen next even though the end game is told very early on. It’s in the blurb! I knew how it would end, but not the how. And we don’t know more than what the police found afterwards so some things remain a mystery. That is so cool and I loved that! But it wouldn’t have worked if the writing wasn’t good. Luckily, it was fantastic. I was so anxious and creeped out the entire time! Yeah, I’m a wuss, but still. It’s hard to freak me out when it comes to books.

I don’t really know how to talk about the characters without throwing spoilers at you. They were all great, I can say that. They were all very fleshed out and unique. The main character(s) Kaitlyn (and Carly) were very interesting. She wasn’t a very reliable source. Those diary entries were intense, my god. There’s a hint of romance but it’s not really a big part of the story and again, can’t say more without spoilers. Sorry!

Also want to mention very quickly that I loved the unique formatting in this book. I don’t know how the other version looks, but the one I have is awesome. Though, really… 3 pages, back and front, filled with “the girl is here”? That’s creepy stuff. Or did you need to hit a page & word count? It was creepy. I wanted to put this book in the freezer (Friends reference, if you didn’t get that) and hide under my covers. Seriously. I was not okay. I kind of want to travel back in time to the point where I decided to read horror books for October and hit myself over the head with a bat while yelling: “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???” So, yeah… Good horror.

The Dead House is the perfect book to read in October. Or anytime really. If you love horror, read it. If you’re a fan of found-footage stuff like the movies Paranormal Activity and Chronicle, go for it! You’ll devour this. It’s creepy, intense, chilling, unputdownable and very compelling.


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