Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween Read

Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween ReadThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers on September 2015
Genres: YA Horror, YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



I don’t want to say too much but it is about: a reopened case about a suspicious fire at a school 20 years prior, a discovered diary that talks about the tragic night , a girl who claims she really is two people (Carly who lives in the day, Kaitlyn who lives at night), the people who believe her and the people who don’t,  a disappearance and a sinister dark house — all told by a mishmash of diary entries, police interview transcripts, video transcripts, notes and more!


a4Wow, I could NOT put it down. Reminded me of how I loved horror and stuff like this as a teen. Everything was so interesting to me and the mystery thrilled me, I loved the format and, while not scary, the creepy & sinister vibe was totally rocking my world. And then things at the ending happened (the ending itself + some parts really started dragging) and I don’t know how I feel it. I’ll get to that in a spoiler section further below but first we will get to the good.

Here’s what kept me reading on the edge of my seat:

1. The format: I love interesting and unique storytelling and especially when it integrates visual stuff. The book was told in diary entries, police reports, transcripts of video footage, interviews with various characters with the police. The diary entries definitely added to how I felt reading the story because we are in Kaitlyn’s head and I felt just as paranoid and trapped as her.  Having all these things helped put me in the story as if I were trying to figure out the mystery myself. I was pouring over all the evidence.


2. The way the mystery kept me flip-flopping what I thought was going on the whole time: So the main character Carly? For as long as she can remember she has had another soul in her, named Kaitlyn, and Carly exists in the day and then at night they switch and Kaitlyn lives. So, as a reader, it’s like okay — does she have this dissociative disorder in which she her mind has created this alter ego like her therapist thinks plus maybe some other underlying mental disorders? Or is there something evil going on inside her? Is everything she says real? Is it not? The unreliability of Kaitlyn/Carly adds to the flip-flopping I did plus some of the other characters seemed a bit unreliable as well. Is it all in her head or is something happening? Because if everything was really true than WOWSER some truly sinister stuff. Did she have the disorder or not? What happened to make her create Kaitlyn and why has she said she was always there? THERE WAS JUST SO MUCH TO COMB THROUGH WITH THIS MYSTERY. I kept doubting my instincts. I’d start to believe something but then doubt it all.


So now it’s time to talk about where some things fell apart for me but it’s all spoilers soooo:

View Spoiler »



factors+ the plot, the storytelling, how it kept me engaged & on the edge of my seat
–  the ending, romance

Re-readability: No, though I’d be tempted to reread the beginning to see if anything makes more sense to fill in some holes
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No

a5people who like interesting storytelling, fans of horror/psychological thriller type books, people who like a good mindf*ck

a8The Dead House was just what I needed for my Halloween reading — creepy, dark and sinister (wish it had been a little scarier) and unique storytelling that really hooked me and made me eager to put together the pieces from the diary entries, video transcripts, interviews and police reports. A compelling book but I’m still really unsure about how I feel about the ending which definitely was a minor buzzkill to my overall feelings toward the book.

review-on-post-itThe Dead House


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I LOVED this one! I really dug the found footage style. This book was insanity though. I could see myself re-reading it every year around Halloween. I do feel like I need to re-read it in order for things to make sense and make up theories & stuff. XDD

  2. I had the EXACT same reaction. I loved the epistolary style and the story was great. But about 90% through I started getting really confused. Why was voodoo suddenly a thing? Why did we find out about Carly’s parents if we didn’t get the whole story? It felt a little rushed.

    I felt like we were missing another 40 pages or so about what happened afterward that led to the present day disappearances.

  3. I agree with you so much! I gave it a lower rating, but I enjoyed the mystery of Carly/Kaitlyn and the format. Did not appreciate how long the book was and how many different things it introduced only to have them not really have an impact in the end – the whole missing memories of her parents’ accident, John being a bad guy but not a bad guy but why did she hate him?, the missing girl, the doctor’s involvement, the ghost (seriously, what was that??), and the whole house and trying to bring Carly back. It was like an overload of subplots that just made the overall story too messy. The format was the star of the show and I really enjoyed reading it that way, and it gave me the creepy crawlies I was wanting but it just ended up being a story I didn’t really enjoy.

  4. It took me almost a month to read this book. At the time, I thought it was because I was in a reading slump, until I got to the end of the book and realized it was the book itself. All the loose ends REALLY rubbed me the wrong way, and it felt like there were too many elements. I mean, what about the one part where the police are interrogating Scott? What ever happened with that?!?! In any case, I had been expecting more loose-end-tying, and the ending just topped the cake for my disappointment.

  5. OOOOOOOHH… I might like this 🙂

  6. Hi, after reading this remarkable paragraph i am too cheerful
    to share my knowledge here with mates.

  7. I enjoyed this but I had some major questions at the end just like you mentioned! We didn’t get any answers! Like what really happened to Carly’s parents? Was John telling the truth about that? The whole format was fantastic and I really enjoyed the story up until the very end then there were too many loose ends. Especially with Dr. Lansing and the paranormal investigation stuff. How can you leave an audience hanging like that????


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