The Dead House – Dawn Kurtagich



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.

My Thoughts

The Dead House threw me. It just… threw me. I did not solve the mysteries of this book by myself – even when I thought I may have figured something out, one tiny detail, I was proven so very wrong. I couldn’t have been any further from the mark.

This book had me grasping at straws, holding my breath, and sitting on the edge of my seat. The creep factor kept me up for a couple days – my mind would just go over the details in constant rotation, trying to see if I’d missed anything. I so wanted to solve it before it all came crashing down!

I’m rather glad that my sleep schedule is so thrown off by my unusual work hours, otherwise I definitely would not have been able to sleep during nighttime hours after reading this book. There is no way I would have been able to turn off the light without being uncomfortable or anxious. Thankfully, I seem to sleep as the sun rises – something Kaitlyn and I have in common.

The format makes for a very interesting, and different, reading experience. It really reminded me of watching a true crime programme, or some sort of found-footage type documentary. We do not have any more information than what is a matter of public record due to criminal investigations and journalism. And I like that – we know as much as anyone else investigating the case, and no one is any closer to solving the weirdness and the mystery of the Johnson Incident.

While chronological, it isn’t a strictly timed narrative – sometimes we jump around and miss some days. But one thing remains constant – something happened at Elmridge, something that can barely be explained, and it seems that no one can solve the mystery.

Right from the start, readers are led to think it’s going to go in a very predictable manner. That sense of comfort is very quickly dismantled, thrown into a ditch, and set on fire. Carly and Kaitlyn are headed for disaster – and those who set them on that course are the most unlikely suspects. The events leading up to the Johnson Incident are intense, bizarre, and extremely unbelievable. And yet – they happened, there is evidence, proof, of what happened.

With a lot of unusual details, and few clues, we’re left with so many more questions than answers by the end of the case. It seems that the investigation isn’t quite over – there are so many people who are morbidly curious. But I highly doubt we’ll ever know the full, and real, truth.

The Dead House is a work of fiction – but it has you believing that the incidents, the case, and the events are completely real. I even did some curious googling while reading, just to ease my own mind. This is a story that has seeped into the depths of my bones. I have a feeling that’s where it’ll stay.


~ by Aubrey Smith on January 31, 2017.

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