Review of The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

TheDeadHouseThe Dead House
By: Dawn Kurtagich
Release Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Kelly from Effortlessly Reading

My Rating:

Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…

…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.

But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?

The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.

The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known.

My Thoughts:
I finished this book last night and my first take away was that The Dead House was brilliantly and wonderfully WEIRD. I don’t even know how to adequately form a review for this book because it was just so strange and really relies on the reader’s take away. This book meshed horror and psychology wonderfully and had me hiding the book at bedtime (I felt like the creepy cover was watching me).

The book’s format was really interesting but might make some readers nervous since it’s not common. The story unfolds through news articles, journal entries and descriptions of video found during an investigation. The novel starts with a report about an incident happening and then fast forwards two decades to the finding of Kaitlyn’s journal. I absolutely loved this technique and felt it was an incredible way to approach an unreliable narrator.

I really don’t want to give too much away since the fun of reading The Dead House revolves around watching the mystery unfold and for the reader to take their views and create what they believe really happened. This book read very quickly and had me at the edge of my seat. I read this over the course of two evenings and I’ll say…it disturbed my sleep! Really, this book delves into violence, psychology, demons, possessions, witch-craft, ghosts…and really all the creepy things you could possibly think of all meshed together into a crazy awesome book.

Because of the format I did feel like an observer and did not connect to the characters in the way I normally would but this did not detract in the slightest for me. I felt reading about the events I knew had happened and having a bit of an idea of what the incident was really added to the tense atmosphere.

Final Thoughts:
I’m sorry that this review couldn’t go into more detail but if you like to be slightly horrified and haunted then I think you’ll love this book. I know for a fact this will not be a book I’ll soon forget. Add Dawn Kurtagich to my ‘pick up whatever she writes’ list.


  1. says

    I’m glad your review was vague in the best way possible! AHH that cover is so creepy, I can’t look at it for long – I’ll have to get the ebook just so I’m not stuck in bed all day and night while I read this! But the format sounds so cool in THE DEAD HOUSE, and I always love it when an author attempts at unreliable narrators, and better yet, SUCCEEDS at it! So happy to hear that you loved this book! Fab review 🙂

  2. says

    I had been wondering about this book and thought it might be something I would be interested in. So glad you liked it so much! Can’t wait to read it now. ☺

  3. says

    This sounds creepy good! I was intrigued with it since I saw it on one of your contests regarding BEA and now it’s nearly upon us!! I just preordered it today because I was thinking, it will be out soonish! Better get on that and it sounds like a perfect read for Halloween! I seem to have many of those saved up! Hopefully I will be able to read some this October! Great review! Definitely curious about this one!

    • says

      YAY, I really hope you enjoy it. I can’t wait to see what the finished copy will look like. Some of the images in the ARC were missing so that’s exciting. It will be a great Halloween read for sure. Let me know what you think once you’ve read it Jessica!

  4. says

    The premise is intriguing enough but I had not heard mentioned the format of the book, and that makes it even more interesting for me, and then you had to go and mention unreliable narrator… and now I really want to read it!
    Great review Kristen!

  5. says

    As someone who absolutely adores all things horror, strange, and weird, it would be such a pleasure to read this book! The cover alone is giving me the great chills, and I want all of it in its glory! I’m glad I came upon this review, because I was quite hesitant in touching it before, but now I’m all grabby hands. XD

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • says

      Faye, for me the cover got creepier the further in the book I read. I hope you love it! I think it was done in a very unique way. I’ll be excited to see your review.

  6. says

    I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK LAST NIGHT AND HOLY CRAP. This is one awesomely messed up book and one that readers will take away different things from (it all just depends on your interpretation of events.)

    I’ve read several creeptastic books but this book should get its own category because it just combines so many different things and it’s really up to the reader to decide what is real or not. Things aren’t tied up in a traditional way, it’s really just up to the readers to wrap them up in their own minds.

    I AM SO GLAD YOU enjoyed this book, Kristen! I am going to struggle to find a way that will aptly describe the awesomeness that is this book.

    Fantastic review!! 🙂

    • says

      RIGHT? It was WeIRD and left me sort of stunned in place. I didn’t’ know what to make of it other than I didn’t like that creepy girl on the cover looking at me. I do think it’ll be great for a reread later on and see if we missed anything the first round.

  7. says

    Ohh 😀 I haven’t heard much about this book; but yay 😀 So glad you loved it so much Kristen. <3 Sigh. You make it seem amazing 🙂 I'm unsure if I would like it.. but now I'm really curious about it 😀 Thank you for sharing sweet girl. <3

  8. says

    I can’t really handle horror at the best of times so thanks for confirming my suspicion that this book is WAY too creepy for me! I don’t know if I have been noticing more thrillers or more have been getting published but I definitely feel like there is a bit of a micro-trend in YA with super twisty books that leave the ending up to readers’ interpretation (aside from this one I had a similar experience with Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls AND Charlie, Presumed Dead).

    • says

      Yeah, if you don’t dig horror this won’t be for you. It hits on many horror elements and sticks with you…sort of pollutes the mind a bit. Oh, I’ve not read either of those books but now I’ll have to add them to my TBR.


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