The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Posted 13 October, 2015 by Heather in Blog, Book Review, Heather, Heather Book Review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Dead House by Dawn KurtagichThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Hachette Audio, Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 15, 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Depression & Mental Illness, Horror, Horror & Ghost Stories, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich is dead on in this terrifying psychological thriller!
Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of five 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.


Good, solid storytelling sets a great foundation for an audiobook. But a unique way of telling that story makes for a stellar audiobook that you don’t want to stop listening to, and The Dead House is told in such a way that it excels head and shoulders above so many other stories in my opinion, and I think that this was the best way to truly experience this creepy and spectacularly psychologically thrilling take on a girl who has a split personality.

Carly gets the light, Kaitlyn gets the dark…

Carly Johnson has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, and she’s the personality that lives in the daytime while Kaitlyn Johnson only exists at night. It’s amazing how different the two personas are. Carly is shy and withdrawn, reluctant to make a wide circle of friends outside of her best friend Nada and Nada’s boyfriend Scott at school. Kaitlyn is impulsive, lonely, and bold. Carly and Kaitlyn insist that they’ve always been in the same body, referring to each other as sisters and communicating with each other via notes. Twenty years after the fire that destroyed a boarding high school in England, a charred journal belonging to Kaitlyn is found in the ruins, and the investigation into the mysterious fire and deaths that immediately preceded the fire is reopened.

They co-exist as best they can, until one isn’t there anymore…

Carly/Kaitlyn are seeing a therapist after their parents die and they’ve been placed into custody of the government.The doctor tries her best to get them on the path to integration where just one personality remains, and when that finally happens, Kaitlyn remains–and the results are disastrous. She feels like the wrong twin is gone and somehow Carly was stolen from her. With increasingly strange nightmares and waking hallucinations about a dark figure, Kaitlyn starts a frightening decent into madness, unknowingly aided by Carly’s best friend Nada–who is a witch and believes that she can help get Carly back into their body via magical means. As the desperation kicks into overdrive, the real danger closes in, and not everyone gets out alive.

Such a unique format to tell this dark, twisty tale of horror…

The Dead House is told in a series of Kaitlyn’s journal entries, Nada’s audio from her video journals, police investigation reports, therapy records, emails between Kaitlyn and a male friend, and court records. With the multiple formats, this is where the audiobook shines–Charlotte Parry and Christian Coulson’s vocal performances were stellar. Whether it was British Carly/Kaitlyn’s voice or the Scottish Nada’s, the accents were flawless. The male detectives and other characters were distinguishable and unique as well. There was creepy, atmospheric music at key times as well, which really added to the tension! I loved this audiobook by Hachette Audio (Audible) and I didn’t want to stop listening.

I give The Dead House a five out of five. The writing is smartly plotted and well-written, with fantastically creepy horror scenes that will leave you looking over your shoulder and not wanting to read or listen in the dark. Is Carly and Kaitlyn a product of Dissociative Identity Disorder or something more paranormal? While this is explored, you get a realistic, inside look at what it’s like to live inside a troubled mind and body. Even though the ending isn’t wrapped up in a tight little bow, it’s satisfying enough that you hope that there’s some peace to be found for Kaitlyn in the end. I highly recommend this book to lovers of psychological horror both young and old, and I’m still thinking about this book over a week later (and Nada’s lovely Scottish brogue).



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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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