Orion Children’s Books, 2015
Audience: Older Teens
Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .
Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.
Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?
Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you've finished reading.
For the first half of The Dead House, I couldn’t put the book down. It was fascinating. However, somewhere towards the middle, after a twist, it completely lost me. I was scared, I didn’t like any of the characters and I didn’t really care about the ending. Overall, I liked the unique storyline and the fact that the writing didn’t “talk down” to teens at all. I’ll definitely read another book by Kurtagich, because I think I’ll like them. This one just wasn’t for me.