[The Dead House] Dawn Kurtagich

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The Dead House is a fast-paced read comprised of diary entries, interview transcripts, descriptions of video blog posts, and unreliable narrators. The Dead House is a novel about a girl named Carly and her twin sister, Kaitlyn. Strangely, only one Johnson girl was on the school roster of Elmbridge High. Who is the other? And where did she go that night? That is just the beginning of the confusing, but interesting, narration of this young adult mystery that is called the Johnson incident within the novel.

The mix of horror and amnesia of the protagonists makes them extremely unreliable narrators like the one in We Were LiarsWe often miss a lot of what is going on in the novel because the protagonists often miss them themselves. We are provided clues that we must attempt to put together, not knowing if the truth is there in the transcripts or in the diary entries. Normally, diary entries can be a tad annoying, but Dawn Kurtagich wrote them in a way that showed us who the protagonists were without focusing on the diary format too much. I really enjoyed the different elements of story telling in this novel. I was particularly interested in the found footage aspect of The Dead House, which gave it a super creepy descriptive quality. The art that headed those chapters were deliciously vague. I really enjoy novels that mix different types of story telling media. It would have been so cool if there had been actual video footage that you could watch in conjunction with reading, as well as unbelievably frightening.

With all horror, whether it’s novels or film, there’s ultimately several twists, suspenseful moments, or jump scares. A few of those were well done in The Dead House and others could be seen coming. Others just needed some more time to grow and would have had a better pay off if they had sat for a while in the narration. Regardless of things that were predictable or not, I enjoyed reading this young adult mystery. Unfortunately, with mystery novel reviews I struggle to say just enough to generate interest and not spoil too much, so I have to end my review here.

I recommend The Dead House to readers who like mystery, unreliable narrators, and light horror. I read it in one setting and am interested in what the author comes up with next.

3 stars.

A copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The Dead House will be available for purchase on September 15th, 2015.

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