ARC Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Title: The Dead House 
Author: Dawn Kurtagich 
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller 
Source: ARC sent by publisher 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: September 15th 2015
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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.


No book has given me goose bumps, or freaked me out as much as The Dead House did. This book is a complete mind trip, making you second guess every single thing you read. Dawn writes in a way that left me as a reader dying to know more about the Johnson Incident. 

The story is told through diary entries, interviews, and video tapes that are organized as a police file with footnotes to guide you through it. The Johnson Incident took place in 2004/2005 and the case is reopened twenty years later for investigation. Each reader is presented with documents that describe the events leading up to the incident and after, and ultimately in the end it is the matter of perception on what is wrong with Carly. Was she possessed? Or was she mentally ill? I see the argument from both ends and it is hard for me to actually choose, but I believe it was a bit of both things that ended up causing the fire. 

The book has a diverse set of characters that grow on you through out the story. I loved seeing how Nadia and Kaitlyn's friendship developed through out the second half of the book. When the book started Kaitlyn felt like Nadia was taking Carly away from her, she was on the defense and constantly rude to Nadia until Carly suddenly goes missing. In The Dead House no one is who they say they are, Kaitlyn eventually learns that one of her friends is out to get her, with a form of vodoo magic. 

As much as I loved The Dead House I do wish the magic was clarified a little more. There were moments I was completely lost in what was going on. But in the format of the story it makes sense that not all the pieces are there for you to put together in the first place. It is a matter of making them fit. Overall I really enjoyed this one and will be looking out for my of Dawn's work in the future. 

Thank you so much to The NOVL for sending me and ARC of The Dead House



  1. I've had this one on my radar since Christopher Pike mentioned it on his Facebook page. And I'm always up for a mindf**ker! :) Also, I'm glad to learn there's a cast of diverse characters - I hope they're handled the right way, and are not there just because.

  2. Wow I regret not signing up for the form that NOVL sent me now. When I read the summary back then, it just didn't catch my attention. But hearing everyone just talk about how creepy and amazing it is, it's definitely grabbing my attention. And what an amazing review, Amber!

    ~Karina @ A Reader Under The Sea

  3. I have an ARC of this book that I NEED to read!!! Thanks for the review!

  4. I love how this story is told in such a unique way. I think it really brings out the creepy/horror aspect of the novel. Great review!


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