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Monday, 14 September 2015

Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

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Title: The Dead House
Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Source:  The Novl Newsletter
Format: ARC


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.


I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

The Dead House was intriguing, very different from what I would classify as my 'typical read' but nevertheless, I found myself enjoying it.

I liked the way in which this novel was written; interchanging between journal entries and hospital and investigation notes. It was not a completely linear story line, sometimes we perused the past, other times we rocketed to the present. It kept me on my toes and grabbed my interest.

There were also a ton of drawings, illustrations, quotes and poetry peppered throughout the novel and as a major literary nerd, I can tell you that it was thoroughly appreciated. It was so beautiful and gave the book a very musical, flowing feel. Some of my favourite quotes included in the entire novel would have to be:

Either the darkness alters-
or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And life steps almost straight

-Emily Dickison 

You are the music
While the music lasts
-T.S Eliot

Hell is empty,
All the devils are here.
- William Shakespeare,
The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2
 Kaitlyn was an amazing protagonist or...antagonist? Not sure how one would class her. She was strong-willed, sarcastic and fun to read about. Reading her journals made me feel like I could relate and empathize with her. Her character made me feel really really happy and also really really weirded out and really really sad. Lots of feels.

I loved the fictional Scottish tribal/religious elements that were interwoven with the story's plot. Free from being just creepy, dark and hair-raising, these elements also gave rise to a few eccentric and notable characters such as Naida (whom I love) and Haji.

The ending, to me, was done incredibly well. It was a final but open one. We read the journal entries, the investigation reports and 'saw' the videos but it was also very mysterious. It was a conclusion that not only told you exactly what happened but left a lot of room for discussion and speculation. Was this real? Did this truly just happen?

To sum up my thoughts, I enjoyed this novel a lot. It didn't scare the crap out of me (was really creepy though) like I expected and took a little while for me to get into but it was a good read which I think a lot of people will love.

Final Sentence in the Novel

To date, she will not speak of what happened during her visit to the sight.

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. Her debut YA novel, The Dead House, is forthcoming from Hachette in 2015.

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!

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 and Author Allsorts.

Her life reads like a YA novel.