Tuesday, June 27, 2017

*Review* The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Genre: YA Horror
Published: September 15, 2015
Pages: 419


Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace. 

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere." 

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson. 

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it. 

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.


I received an audiobook version of this book through Audiofile Sync's summer reading program for teens free of charge with no expectations. This is my honest review. 

This book hooked me from the beginning. I was curious to understand the relationship between Carly and Kaitlyn. It seemed pretty straightforward at first; Carly got the day and Kaitlyn got the night, and that's just the way it had always been. I kind of wondered how their body didn't end up exhausted, but apparently it worked for them. But now I think Kaitlyn is a very unreliable narrator because I don't think she told me the full truth, although it's also very possible she never knew the full truth herself. In any case, by the end of the book I was questioning everything I thought I knew about the story. I'm still trying to figure it out now, weeks later, and when a book leaves me pondering it for weeks, that's awesome. 

The story is told through a variety of diary entries, witness testimony, and narration of video diary entries. It provided a unique view on the events from a variety of perspectives, but it was not particularly conducive to getting to the bottom of things. In spite of that, I really liked this format, probably because I wasn't being spoon-fed all the information.

The audiobook has a full cast of narrators, so all the voices were unique. Additionally, the story can easily be listened to at 1.5 speed, if you are so inclined. 

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Stephen King and will likely be reading more from Dawn Kurtagich myself in the future. 5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of creepy, spooky and psychologically sinister YA fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide. 

By the time she was eighteen, she had been to fifteen schools across two continents. The daughter of a British globe-trotter and single mother, she grew up all over the place, but her formative years were spent in Africa—on a mission, in the bush, in the city and in the desert.

She has been lucky enough to see an elephant stampede at close range, a giraffe tongue at very close range, and she once witnessed the stealing of her (and her friends’) underwear by very large, angry baboons. (This will most definitely end up in a book . . . ) While she has quite a few tales to tell about the jumping African baboon spider, she tends to save these for Halloween! 

When she was sixteen, she thought she'd be an astronomer and writer at the same time, and did a month-long internship at Cambridge's prestigious Cavendish Laboratories. 

She writes over at the YA Scream Queens, a young adult blog for all things horror and thriller, and she is a member of the YA League.

Her life reads like a YA novel.

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