It’s Halloween season so today I have yet another YA horror / thriller book to review. The second book I read this month is called The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich and it follows a girl who is mentally ill and diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder which means that she has a split personality. During the day, she’s a quiet good girl named Carly and at night her alter-ego Kaitlin takes over. The girls are aware of each other’s existence and they love each other very much. They refer to one another as sisters and they often leave notes for each other about their experiences during their time in Carly’s body. While the book had a very interesting premise and I was engaged for the majority of the story, there was an element near the end that just lost me.
Carly / Kaitlin were each a well developed personality and while the story is primarily told by diary entires from Kaitlin’s journal, we do get see some notes and entries penned by Carly. Each sister has very different handwriting and each entry is is labeled with the amount of days to the incident or the amount of days after the incident. A big part of why I was so interested in continuing to read is because I wanted to find out exactly what type of incident occurred. The narrative was unique and in addition to Kaitlin’s diary entries, the story is also told via description of video footage Carly’s best friend Naidia filmed throughout their school experience as well as interviews with Doctor Lansig who was assigned to treat Carly.
Kaitlin’s account of her experiences are filled with raw emotion and it’s up to the reader to determine whether they believe her narrative or if they believe that she is mentally ill and her story is fabricated. Usually I’m not a fan of unrelatable narrators because I find it frustrating to not be able to trust whoever is recounting details to me but in Kaitlin’s case I really enjoyed it. It didn’t take me long to warm up to Kaitlin but without spoiling anything, I had some issues with the direction the story went in about two-thirds of the way into the book.
Final Thoughts: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich is a thriller that follows a young girl named Carly / Kaitlin who suffers from DID. The book has an intriguing style of storytelling as it is a compilation of diary entries, interviews, and descriptions of video footage. While I had issues with the ending, I definitely enjoyed the majority of the journey to there. I wouldn’t necessarily classify it in the horror genre but the cover is very festive for Halloween. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and you don’t mind unreliable narrators I would recommend checking this one out!
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. (via Goodreads)