Published: 6th August 2015
Number of Pages: 320
Book: For Review*
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery, Contemporary, Adventure, YA, Crossover
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol and Drug References
Author's Site: Dawn Kurtagich
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.
I read The Dead House in a single sitting. It blew my mind. Totally. Completely. Irreversibly. I literally cannot believe how amazing this book was – especially for someone's debut novel! I just... wow. I am seriously struggling to find the words. It's so hard... The Dead House is so freaking unique and it blew my goddamn mind. Ah, I need the words... Here goes…
'I AM NOT A SICKNESS!'
Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson are unique: two sisters, two people, who share one body. Carly has the day. Kaitlyn belongs to the night. People think they are crazy.
Naida Chounan-Dupré, a practitioner of Mala, doesn't think so.
And then one night, twenty-five years ago, the school the girls attended burnt down. Three were killed. One vanished – Carly Johnson.
Ever since, this event has become known as the Johnson Incident – but very little was actually known about it.
Until a journal was found among the wreckage – a diary that belonged to Kaitlyn. Along with police interviews, Naida's video footage and psychiatry sessions, the diary finally sheds a light upon the mystery that happened all those years ago.
What happened that night? Who set the fire?
And who is Kaitlyn Johnson?
I received The Dead House in the mail. It came with a post-it note on it, reading ‘I curse anyone who reads this book’. Also with it, an admissions form for the psychiatric hospital Carly and Kaitlyn were sent to. The moment I saw these intriguing little extras, I began to read. And just... whoa. I have never, ever read anything like The Dead House. It's going to be so hard to write this review – partly because I really don't want to write any spoilers, partly because it's so hard to describe everything this book made me feel, everything this book is. I just... God, I still don't have the words – not to do The Dead House justice.
All of the characters were just... so amazingly made and so complex. I can't say much about them – I don't want to give anything away about this mind-blowing plot. But all of them just blew me away, because I never knew what to do with any of them.
Kaitlyn was the most intriguing character. Broken, dark, scared, so lonely. And the biggest question, one everyone has to ask, is she even real? Is she crazy? Whatever you believe, you can't deny she's one of the most interesting characters in any YA paranormal thriller.
Carly – we didn't see a lot of Carly. But we saw some of the notes the girls pass to one another – they are so close, so loving, it's so sweet...
The first time Ari entered the story was hilarious – with the bowler hat and the "I have excellent taste. It'd be gay if I wasn't so straight." And their IM chats... killed me!
Naida was another intriguing character – she was into Mala, a kind of magic. The whole thing was so fascinating, actually – and freaking terrifying!
Enough with the characters! No spoilers, guys!
I utterly adored Dawn's writing – it was phenomenal. The mix of diary entries, interviews, film footage and notes was pure genius and so brilliantly compelling. I was so addicted to every single word that Dawn wrote – every. single. damn. word. It was like a spell had been cast over me.
If you know me, you know I love a good thriller. I've watched and read many – horrors and mysteries too. But I have never read a plotline quite like that of The Dead House. It was... whoa. I still can't get my head around it – still can't believe this brilliantly crafted, utterly terrifying, bloody brilliant story line. It is just... bloody hell. I seriously don't have the words! I never knew what to expect, was left desperate for more answers, left stunned, mind blown, and utterly lost for words. I just... bloody hell.
The other issues – was this insanity or Mala? – were utterly intriguing. I know which I'm leaning towards, but either way... whoa. The complexity of the Johnson split personality disorder was utterly intriguing – and towards the end the theory about why rang true... As for Naida's dual-soul and Olen-based beliefs, those were just as intriguing, oddly just as believable too. It was all just... whoa (never have I said whoa so much in one review).
This review is random ramblings – I'm not even sure it makes sense and I apologise. It's just The Dead House was so freaking amazing. It was scary as hell, utterly addictive and pure damn magic. I'm not sure how to tell you guys how goddamned and bloody fantastic. You can't blame me – only about ten percent of my thought process is going towards this review. Sixty percent is silent, lost for words, blown away. The other thirty is still trying to figure everything out, still trying to desperately piece together the clues, my thoughts, my mind, my heart. I just...
Ok, I seriously have no words. So I'm going to do you all a favour and stop and give you a piece of advice instead. Buy The Dead House. Buy it right freaking now. Read it. Read it right freaking now. It is one of the most intense, most suspenseful, most shocking and most breath-taking thrillers you will read this year – or ever, actually. I honestly just can't recommend this bloody amazing book enough. It is... phenomenal. Unique. Incredible.
And we're back to adjectives. I'll stop now. Just read it yourself – render yourself as incoherent as me.
If you'll excuse me, I now have to go rock in a corner, hugging this book to my chest. I should be better in a year or two. Maybe.
5 Out of 5
5 Out of 5
Read this book if you liked:
Empty Coffin Series by Gregg Olsen
* This book was received from Orion in exchange for an honest review
** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book