TITLE: The Dead House
AUTHOR: Dawn Kurtagich
PUBLISHER: Orion Children's Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Horror, Suspense, Mystery
RATING: 3/5 Stars
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.
What I Liked:
- The premise of this book is a really good one. I've never read a book focusing on a character suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder and I loved that most of it was told from the diary entries of Kaitlyn, the 'alter' rather than Carly who is supposedly the original and 'correct' personality. Kurtagich did a great job at highlighting the loneliness that Kaitlyn feels at being stuck in the night and I was completely enthralled to hear her distaste at being described as a 'symptom'.
- Kurtagich chose a very unique method of telling the story and I have to applaud her bravery on this front. There is no continuous narrative, but instead a composition of parts: newspaper articles, police interviews, psychiatric reports and described video tape footage. The last was particularly intriguing because I felt like I could really envisage it, it was written so well! Kurtagich didn't miss a detail in that respect.
What I Disliked:
- It was during the second half of the book that things began to fall flat for me. Kurtagich had already introduced a pretty hefty number of plot elements but instead of drawing them all nicely together, she decided to introduce more. As the book got closer to the end, I felt more and more confused abut what on earth was actually happening and the final conclusion provided me with very few answers. A shame, because if it had been tied up properly, this book could have been excellent!
This book began as the ultimate Halloween read for me. Personality disorders are always fairly creepy to read about, but they weren't the focus of this book's scares and I thought that Kurtagich mixed 'crazy' and the supernatural very well. But this was a mystery that I wanted to be solved by the end, and it simply wasn't. In fact, it was made more confusing and I felt like a lot of things were rushed in order to reach some kind of conclusion. It felt jumbled and vague and I'm really disappointed because it had such potential! No one can deny how good the first half's build-up was though and Kurtagich was definitely onto something here.