The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. ★★1/2
This was a let down. I was hoping I’d get something with a creepy atmosphere that would keep me turning the pages. Turns out I got a shambling mess of a book.
Years ago, Elmbridge High School burned to the ground. Three people were killed and one went missing. Told through documents compiled after the incident, The Dead House tells the story of the alleged arsonist, Kaitlyn Johnson, the twin sister of student Carly Johnson. However, Kaitlyn Johnson did not technically exist – she was a separate personality that only came out at night. During the day, Carly. During the night, Kaitlyn.
Confession: I’m not a huge fan of books told through diary formats. Perhaps this skewed my opinion, because The Dead House is told primarily through Kaitlyn’s diary entries. Other documents such as interviews, medical records, and transcripts of videos were also recorded. Some of the video recordings felt highly convenient. If you were doing something illegal would you really record yourself doing it? And would you leave the footage lying around for future investigators to find?
There’s this ongoing question of whether or not Kaitlyn’s the psychological result of a disturbed mind (Dissociative Identity Disorder) or some sort of paranormal phenomenon. This question is never answered, although being a habitual SFF reader, I’m predisposed to go with the paranormal explanation.
The Dead House is composed of what feels like five million subplots that I don’t care about at all. It takes far to long for anything to happen, and the book doesn’t even get markedly more interesting when the twist does arrive. Why is this novel over 400 pages when so little happens!
Yet the main problem is that The Dead House never delivered on it’s promised creepy atmosphere. If a book’s being billed as a horror novel, it should at least send some chills up the reader’s spine. But my main feeling while reading The Dead House was boredom. Or sometimes frustration.
In all honesty, I should have quit reading it. The Dead House wasn’t really worth finishing. By the time I realized that I was already half way in, and I’d abandoned enough books lately to want to finish one. Too bad The Dead House wasn’t worth it.