Audiobook Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Narrator: Charlotte Perry, Christian Coulson
Published by Hachette Audio on September 15, 2015
Genres: Horror, Horror & Ghost Stories, Young Adult
Welcome to the Dead House. Three students: dead.Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it. Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary - and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.
I was quite intrigued by the description of this book, but when I heard the audiobook clip, I pushed it to the must read (listen) list. The narration in this book is more of a production than just simply reading. Don’t get me wrong, it is not overdone, but there is mood music in places, sound effects in the background whenever we are listening to a recorded session, little details added. Also, this a book with a good amount of emotion and panic, so the narrator had to crank it up to really get that level of turmoil and desperation across. Despite hearing this was a very visual book, I absolutely don’t feel I missed anything with the audio version, actually, this is one of those cases where I think the performance probably heightened my experience with the story.
The Dead House is a haunting and desperate tale of two girls residing in a single body. Carly Johnson comes out during the day, Kaitlyn Johnson comes alive at night. The girls are both different and almost defined by the time of day they are in control. Carly is nice and sweet and everything made of light. Kaitlyn is impulsive and daring, living in the dark.
It is a fascinating relationship and situation. Kaitlyn feels as if she is borrowing Carly’s body, as if Carly were the true person and she is the one who lives in the shadows, the secret person who has to be cautious about being discovered. Carly (and Kaitlyn) have been diagnosed as having Dissociative Identity Disorder, but their presentation is unusual, with just two personalities and that when they appear is related to time of day rather than some other events. The fact the changeover from one personality to another is so predictable is incredibly unusual. So, the reader has to wonder, is there something else at play here? Is there another explanation for these two souls confined to just one body?
I hate to get into the story too much, but lets just say there are plenty of freaky, creepy and eerie moments. Things you are not quite sure are real or imagined. Things you would never want to face in the light of day, much less in the dark of night. There was a little bit of predictability in it, but I didn’t feel like it lessened my experience too much.
This story is told through a series of journal entries, as well as video transcriptions, interview excerpts and other miscellaneous materials that could be used to piece together the events as they unfolded, things to help investigate what really happened the night of the fire that took three lives, injured many more. A fire that left Carly Johnson’s whereabouts unknown. Her body was not discovered among the dead and she has not been seen since. Investigators want to know what happened to Carly and if this disturbed young woman may have been responsible for the tragedy, but how much can you trust journal entries made by a young woman who is clearly disturbed on some level?
I love stories that make you wonder there is something supernatural occurring or the story is the result of mental illness. This is one of those stories, you hear one story from the doctors, but you get another story from the characters. Is it possible there is some type of witch craft involved? possession? or possibly something else entirely? Regardless of what it turns out to be, the story is captivating and haunting and you will want to find out.