Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Title: The Dead House

Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Published: August 2015

Pages: 440


Twenty-five years ago, there was a fire at Elmbridge High school that shut down the facility forever. Three students died and one, Carly Johnson, went missing. Very few details as to who caused the fire or the disappearances have been found…that is, until now. The charred diary of Carly’s twin sister, Kaitlyn, has been found in the ruins of the school, and has cast a vast shadow of suspicion on the activities of Carly and her friends. Except Carly doesn’t have a twin sister.

This book is complete and utter insanity, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The story itself is told through diary entries, video transcripts, police reports, and notes traded between the two “sisters” Carly and Kaitlyn. Are they really sisters trapped in the same body? What really happened the night their parents died? And are the tragic events at Elmbridge High the result of severely incorrect treatments for mental disturbance, or is there a more sinister source at play? I genuinely have no idea. If there’s one thing you’re not going to get from this book, it’s a definitive answer. On…just about anything. But that’s part of what makes it fun.

I really don’t know how to even begin to describe this book, and I definitely don’t know how to get into it without spoilers. There’s just so much that happens in it! It also manages to capture that deeply unsettling atmosphere that I feel makes horror truly successful, and then near the end, everything goes off the rails—but in a good way. The fact that it jumps between past and present and is told through various mediums is also a really effective tool to up the creep factor. When you’re reading Kaitlyn’s diary and the transcripts of Naida’s video clips, you feel like a voyeur, peeking in on something you have no right to see. And then, of course, everything becomes entirely unhinged and you feel like you can’t catch your breath.

Bottom line: This book, while not perfect, is incredibly compelling. Despite its hefty appearance, it’s an incredibly fast-paced read. If you can bring yourself to put it down once you’ve started, you’re stronger than I am.

Happy reading!

Want to check out The Dead House? Find it on the CMRLScatalog and put it on hold!