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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Dead House | Review

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"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."


The Dead House is a standalone horror/mystery novel by Dawn Kurtagich.

I ended up picking up this novel for a reading challenge I am doing but had never heard of this book prior to doing research for the challenge. While the story does ultimately slip towards the end, I did rather enjoy the novel. It is even more impressive considering that this is the author's debut novel, and it is an ambitious one at that considering the format.

I think that this story functions better as a character study than as a traditional story. That is because this story mainly follows Kaitlyn Johnson, who is the split personality of Carly and was created as a result of trauma. Being inside Kaitie's head was really interesting because of who she is, and that is what I found the strong point of the story to be. That being said though, I ended up enjoying that aspect less as it headed toward the climax of the story.

I did mention already that the story slipped towards the end, and that is partially because the story takes a supernatural turn. Usually, I am always happy when a story features a paranormal or supernatural storyline, but I felt like it took away from the story. Again, I liked being in Kaitie's head, so for everything that is happening to be chalked down to her being cursed was just not it for me. I think it would have made for a better and more impactful story if it just focused on mental health and instability.

If you do want to read this then you will want to pick it up physically because it is multimedia. Multimedia meaning that this doesn't follow a traditional format and mainly contains journal entries as well as email correspondences. You can read the ebook, but it won't quite be the same because the pages won't look burnt (Kaitie's journal was burnt hence the burnt pages).

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