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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Dead House | Book Review

The Dead House 

Written by: Dawn Kurtagich
Number of Pages: 448

Average Rating: 3.71/5 stars
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Published in September 2015
Read in October 2017

Summary According to Goodreads

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.

My Thoughts

I went into this novel not knowing much about the plot. It was a random bookstore find, and I'd never heard anyone talk about it before. I love spooky things and the brief synopsis on the back had really grabbed my attention. However, I ended up quite disappointed.

This novel is told in a variety of medias including diary entries, interviews, and video clips (all transcribed for the sake of a novel). There is a lot of bouncing back and forth between "before the incident" and "after the incident" and other random periods of time, and it was not easy to keep up with. Some of the entries seemed very scattered, and I think that was supposed to be some of the thrill and mystery, but it got lost on me. 

I enjoyed the characters enough to continue reading the novel in its entirety, but would have preferred if she kept to one theme; horror or mental illness/psychological. It is hard to take a character dealing with a personality disorder, and transform it into a character that is “possessed”. I am diagnosed bipolar and struggle in similar ways as this character did, but felt like it was portrayed poorly. For me this just struck the wrong chord and I think it could have been a stronger novel without a crossover.

I think my biggest complaint about this novel is that it was just too long. There were so many things that could have been cut out since they didn't add anything to the story, and just slowed down the pacing. It is also shelved as “horror”, but I did not find it scary at all. Granted I watch and read a lot of horror, so I don’t spook too easily, but there were so many opportunities for a fright that never came. 

Overall, I was very disappointed by this novel as it had so much potential. I am a little bit slack considering this was her debut novel, but I think it could have used some more editing and re-working of the order of events. The ending was rushed and chaotic, and I’m not even 100% sure of what happened, so I don’t really recommend it.

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