The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich – two souls sharing one body and a disastrous attempt to separate them

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The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich –  two souls sharing one body and a disastrous attempt to separate them

I wasn’t a fan of this book for several reasons, but other people seemed to like it just fine.  I gave it two stars.  If you are interested in multiple personalities, Sybil is a better read.  If a diary found amid the ruins of a horrific crime turns your crank, I suggest The Boy Meets Girl Massacre.

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Goodreads Summary

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich is dead on in this terrifying psychological thriller!

Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…
…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.
But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?
The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.
The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known.

My Thoughts

This is one of those times I really hate reviewing books because I see all the time and effort that went into the writing and plotting of The Dead House, but I still just can’t see much value in the final product.  I am very interested in DID (what used to be called multiple personality disorder), and I like books that give me insight into what I consider a fascinating topic.  Unfortunately, this book ended up being a pretty confusing mix of psychological and supernatural, and in the end, I was no closer to answers about the biggest mysteries of Carly’s life and likely death.  That can be frustrating when I pushed myself through four hundred plus pages just to get to those illusive answers.  It wouldn’t have been such a big loss to me if I had connected with any of the characters or if I was enjoying the escape the book offered, but I really felt every single second I put into this book was a second I could have spent reading something I enjoyed more.  I was not a huge fan of the formatting in this book.  I think it made the story incredibly difficult to read, it confused the timeline, and it didn’t add anything to the story, other than repetition.  I also felt like this story just went on and on with little regard to pacing.  There were no real developments in relationships, and the “mystery” isn’t “solved” until the very end, so it just felt like gratuitous writing, especially interviews that involved characters on the perimeter of the story who basically said they didn’t know anything.  I’m a careful reader, and If I struggled to see the relevance of a document in the text, I imagine my high school readers will really be at a loss.  I think this narrative style added to my other biggest complaint – I was not able to care about any of the characters.  Even Kaitlyn, the character that readers get closest to, is so hard to relate to – her episodes of crazy or haunting were torture to read.  I think this added to my overall apathy about the outcome of the story – I wasn’t shocked or bothered by any of the awful things transcribed or recorded.  I just didn’t care.  I kind of wanted to kill off characters myself so the story would end.  That sounds harsh, and it is, but it is also honest.  Language and situations are suppose to be disturbing, but they come across as slightly silly and unbelievable, so I think it is appropriate for high school readers.   I do, however believe that my own students would struggle to maintain interest in the story beyond the first 25%.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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