ARC Review – The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

24396858Title:  The Dead House

Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Rating:  ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: 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.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review!

River’s Review:

Sooooo two major issue with this book. First issue… it wasn’t scary. At all. Creepy OH YES. Scary, not even close. I… do not do horror anything. I can’t even watch the trailers on TV for horror movies. ON TV! That’s bad guys. I got to the burning lady on the ceiling part of the first episode of Supernatural and now I wont be able to sleep tonight because I reminded myself of it. SO when this book was all IT IS SO SCARY YOU CAN’T KEEP IT IN YOUR HOUSE I thought I was going to have to put it in the freezer. But nope. Not scary.

Second… was it paranormal? Did she have an actual mental disorder? I really feel like the line between the two was way too close and I just couldn’t get a grip on what exactly it SHOULD have been! And that bothered me. Half the time I wanted to think that it WAS all in her head and then the other half of the time there was stuff about demons and I guess it’s supposed to be ambiguous but I would have liked a little more leaning one way or the other. And OMG the part about the parents. You CANNOT just throw out a tiny little tidbit like that and NOT elaborate! Ugh, I really needed more on that.

So this is the story of two girls in one body. But are the two souls or a case of dissociative identity disorder? In the day Carly comes out. Carly is quiet, timid, shy, and anorexic. At night Kaitlyn comes out. She’s wild, daring, loud and loves to have fun. The two share a body, their parents knew about this and just told them to hide it, even their little sister grew up believing that there were two girls sharing a body. So is this real? A mental disorder? It’s never clear.

The parents die in an accident (we later get details that make you go WTF!!!!) and doctors believe that the DID that Carly is suffering from was caused by the accident. But Carly knows that it’s been going on long before then. She spends time in a hospital with a pretty incompetent doctor and then goes to a boarding school where she makes friends with a girl who’s basically a witch. Sadly we don’t learn too much about the craft that Naida practices and deals with and a lot of it’s just glossed over. So I would have liked more depth in that because I thought that if we’d gotten more info it might have made all of the demon stuff more realistic. But the mystic and paranormal start to crash into the girls and suddenly Carly stops appearing in the day and Kaitlyn takes over.

In the meantime Kaitlyn meets a boy named Ari and they fall in love. This romance did not work for me. I liked Ari as her friend but it just never felt like they’d really fallen in love. I liked how they bonded in the night and would email, but love? It just didn’t really seem like it was there. There were a couple of other boys in this who were never really fully developed, which was sad because the Viking character had a lot of potential. And when we found out more about him, we, sadly, never got the full backstory.

I guess the problem with how loose and underdeveloped this felt was because of how it’s written. It’s told from Kaitlyn’s POV through her diary entries along with police reports, video and voice transcriptions and post-it-notes written between Kaitlyn and Carly. I do enjoy things written in this style (it reminded me of Illuminae a lot) but it’s very hard to develop a lot of things in this style as well. So that’s where a lot was lost.

Aside from the problems I had I liked the exploration of what was going on with Carly and Kaitlyn. I liked how Naida tried to help. I really enjoyed the creepiness of this, and it kept me up late and kept me flipping the pages. It’s just the more I think back on it the more I find issue with it. I was expecting a physiological horror story and when all of the paranormal got mixed in it just didn’t feel like it had mixed in as seemlessly as it should have.

2 thoughts on “ARC Review – The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

  1. aentee @ read at midnight

    Oh that’s disappointing to hear. If I’m gonna read a horror it needs to give it’s all to me and freak me the eff out. The cover is sooo gorgeous though. I might still check it out at the library due to the psychological element, I do love to read those! Great review 🙂


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