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 SummaryPart-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!

20 comments:

Kindlemom said...

I remember this being a strange read and figuring it all out early on but still enjoying it. It was formatted a bit differently and it was definitely a strange one in a good way!

The Bibliophile Babe said...

I've heard good things about this one!

Cait @ Paper Fury said...

I'm a sucker for unique formatting so eeep, I need to check this book out further! And I don't think I've ever read about a disorder like that before?!? I AM INTRIGUED.
Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

Melliane said...

I love books like that, it's always so intriguing!

Erika Sorocco said...

I'm so glad you loved this book! I read it in less than 24-hours back in November and I still think about it. Such a fascinating read - and the formatting was just brilliant!

xx

Kate Midnight Book Girl said...

This one is totally on top of my TBR pile! I plan on getting to it asap!

Joyous Reads said...

I didn't realize the story is written in a unique way! I think it adds a bit more mystery when it's told in journal entries.

Glad you enjoyed this one!

Talk Supe said...

I like books like this. I might download a sample just to see how unique is the format.

P.S. Thanks for signing up for Books & Things! Let me know when your first craft post goes up so I can correct the link. You can email or tweet me.

Happy weekend!

Adriana Garcia said...

This sounds os freaking cool! I'm mesmerized by your description of the story. And yay a unique format I can see myself reading. I'm actually really excited to read this :D

Claudia Arroyo said...

Lauren, this sounds utterly engrossing. I'm curious just to see how the author fleshed out this DID disorder. It sounds and feels like something similar to Jekyll and Hyde or is that just me?

Regardless, loved the thorough review! Thanks for sharing this one and suggesting it for the Unique Formating RC :)

Kristin @ Addicted to HEA said...

Wow, this kind of sounds awesome!! Was it hard to follow the "before" the incident and the "after" the incident??? I think I'm going to HAVE to suggest this for the library collection, for sure!!! Fantastic review!!

Grace @ RebelMommyBookBlog said...

First I love the cover. Second I think the formatting of this one sounds like something I would really enjoy. Glad you enjoyed it and I will have to check it out! Great review!

Karen Alderman said...

I've had this on my Kindle for a while now. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Karen @For What It's Worth

Cleo Bannister said...

Wow this one is right up my street Lauren - I love books that include transcripts etc and the premise to the mystery is brilliant - I really want to know what happens. Thanks for a great review.

Midnight Cowgirl said...

Wow, this sounds so interesting!

Tanya Atkinson said...

This sounds so unique! Not just the formatting but the plot as well. I love coming across one that can offer up something new. Enjoyed your review - and thanks for putting this one on my radar. :)

Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

A Canadian Girl said...

I loved the formatting of Illuminae so I'm going to check this out. The plot sounds pretty interesting!

Clara said...

I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while, but I didn't know that it had a unique format! Now I'm even MORE excited. And now I just have to wait until my library gets it...which could be a while. *sigh*

Thanks for visiting Lost in My Library!

Kirsty-Marie Jones said...

I loved this one, definitely a unique format and I love books (especially YA ones) that deal with DID.

Sabrina said...

Wow I'm really interested in reading this book now! Thank you :)