Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Young Adult
Description: Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High School burned down. The blaze killed three and injured twenty, and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. For two decades, little was revealed about what became known as the Johnson Incident.
A diary has been found in the ruins of the school. In this diary, Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s twin, tells of the strange and disturbing sequence of events leading to the incident.
But Kaitlyn doesn’t exist. She never has.
Chilling, creepy and 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.
Now, this book review is about a book that I started around 3pm yesterday and finished at 8pm the same day. This review will contain spoilers so please read with caution!
We were introduced to the storyline almost straight away. A fire at a school left some dead and some missing. Obviously, the true events of it would get revealed as you gradually read the book, but it was extremely inviting and intriguing nonetheless. Additionally, a separate storyline introduced the two (?) female characters; Kaitlin and Carly. Their parents died and they did not know what happened, so they were sent to a psychiatric ward to a) help them remember, and b) get rid of one of them.
I cannot even begin to fathom what actually happened in this book! Firstly we had Carly and Kaitlin who shared a body but were two different souls, then part of the book was a therapist Dr Lansing who was trying to get Carly to supress Kaitlin, and then we discovered that Kaitlin was the real person!
I loved how this book was structured and presented. It wasn’t set out as a normal book. we read this story by reading Kaitlin’s journal and ‘watching’ Naida’s camera footage, plus we were able to read interviews. This really intrigued me about the book and it was what made me want to continue reading it in the first place.
Then we were able to meet some characters; Kaitlin, Carly, Scott, Naida, Brett, Ari, John, Haji, and Dr Lansing. They’re all bloody amazing characters. They’re all weird and mysterious, and they’re all quite secretive in their own way. I honestly loved Kaitlin and Naida – Naida especially. She helped Kaitlin straight away and didn’t think twice about it.
Another thing I loved about the characters was that I couldn’t tell who was the Shyan, the ‘villain’. At the beginning I thought it was Dr Lansing because I really did not like her, but I was proven wrong. When I read who it was I thought ‘ah yes that makes some sense’, but I ended up questioning all of them. Ari was the obvious choice being the love interest, but would you really class him as a victim? Yes he killed Brett and Haji but he did want to save Kaitlin and he did die trying to control the demon.
Leading from that, I did not expect that ending! All this time we thought that she was being controlled by an Olen, when in fact it was a bad-ass demon. To be fair, this did make a lot of sense when you looked back at things and thought about the ending; Kaitlin did kill Juliet but she didn’t realise, it was the demon thingy. I can’t help but feel incredibly sorry for all of the characters – Naida lost her tongue, Scott was a major suspect in the case, Ari was crazed with love, Brett didn’t really know the damage he had done, and Haji did really help them.
I gave this book 5 stars because I couldn’t fault it. The characters were spectacular, the layout of the book was flawless, and the plot was so complicated and detailed. Dawn Kurtagich, you have written a book that I will read probably 20 more times this week. Full respect!