Friday, February 5, 2016
Unique Format: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Review by Lauren
Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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’?
Review: I've owned this book for awhile now, so I figured it was finally time I read it when I realized I could use it for my Unique Formatting Book Challenge (details on a page under my header). When it comes to the actual story, I found it really interesting! Carly Johnson suffers from Dis-associative Identity Disorder (DID - used to be Multiple Personality Disorder) and this means that during the day, she is Carly. At night, she's Kaitlyn. The psychiatrist believes that Carly developed Kaitlyn as a coping mechanism after Carly's parents died. However, both girls tell her that they have always been like this. Their parents knew they were like this, but they wanted to keep it a secret because they knew people wouldn't understand.
Carly was sent to a psychiatric hospital after her parent's death and after being there for some time, she is allowed into Elmbridge High. Only her best friend Naida knows about Kaitlyn. Everyone else either knows nothing or just believe that Carly is a bit different at night. The overall story of the book is either "days before incident" or "days after incident" and it's mixed up throughout the book, giving you enough details as time goes on to put the picture together, yet still be held in enough suspense to keep reading. I think Kurtaghich did a great job! I'd love to read another mystery/suspense novel from her!
The "incident" in the book is known as the Johnson Incident and a file has been put together (this is the book you are reading) with various evidence to help explain what happened and why. Carly Johnson is obviously a key figure in said incident. From the above summary, it tells you how the story is told, using transcripts of video footage that Naida took, diary entries from Kaitlyn and a few from Carly, interview transcripts, and more. If you have read the book Illuminae, then The Dead House is one that you should definitely check out because the various non-traditional narrative styles you see in Illimuinae were used in The Dead House as well. I thought it worked great and that you got to know Kaitlyn very well. You don't know Carly as well, but there is a reason for that, I believe, and I still feel like you know her enough.
Unique Format: Like I said before, I read this for the Unique Formatting Book Challenge that I'm hosting. I listed the various ways this book used that technique and I love that the whole book is a unique format! You usually only get bits and pieces unless the book is told through letters or a diary format all the way through. This is also suited for the Rock My TBR challenged hosted by The YA Book Traveler. I read this in January, but I'm only now reviewing it!