A YALSA Top 10 pick | Audie Award Nominated | Earphone Award Winner
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. Five 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’?
MORE PRAISE FOR THE DEAD HOUSE
"...a haunting new thriller..." --- EW.com
Kaitlyn/Carly Johnson is troubled. Suffering from dissociative identity disorder, Carly is awake during the day and Kaitlyn owns the night. The personalities leave each other notes to help smooth the transition; they lead separate lives. When the parents die suspiciously, Kaitlyn/Carly is moved to a psychiatric hospital and then a school for troubled teens. When a doctor integrates the personalities, Kaitlyn emerges; she believes that other forces are possessing her and trapping Carly. Then other teens go missing or are killed. This book will pique readers’ interest on multiple levels. Told through diaries, police interviews, psychiatrist’s notes, emails, video transcripts, and newspaper articles, this unique format puts the reader in the position of investigator. Finally, there is the horror component which will keep many readers anxiously waiting to see what comes next.
--- Library School Connection
A horror tale made creepier by the integration of diary entries, grainy pictures, interview transcripts, newspaper clippings, doodles, stills from video recordings, and other media, Carly/Kaitlyn’s story is told as “found footage” pieced together by followers of “the Johnson incident,” which remains an unsolved mystery. Kurtagich maintains the creepy and dark tone through to the end, where readers are not given a neat a tidy ending—ghosts still haunt, pieces of the story remain missing, and life goes on despite the terrible tragedy at the prestigious Elmbridge High School.
--- Voya (October 2015 Print Issue)
Kurtagich’s debut is a taut, psychological suspense novel centered around disturbed teenagers Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson and the horrifying series of events that culminated in a deadly fire at a residential high school. The time line is recreated through a series of police files, diary entries, transcribed video footage, and newspaper stories, revealing that Carly/Kaitlyn share the same body, with Carly occupying the daytime hours and Kaitlyn the night. The two communicate via a series of notes, and, although Carly’s therapist believes she suffers from dissociative identity disorder, it’s not clear which girl is the primary persona and which is the alter ego. When the Carly personality disappears from Kaitlyn’s consciousness, she embarks on a grisly quest to find her in the “dead house” that is her mind. Not for the faint of heart, this is a gory and grimly compelling story, made more so by the novel’s visual elements. Readers will be left wondering if the supernatural elements are real or all part of a troubled girl’s damaged mind.
"This creepy boarding school novel meshes real world issues with a paranormal mystery in a fun but scary debut... Fans of horror novels will appreciate the creepy photographs scattered throughout, and the multiple perspectives are smoothly integrates... A worthy addition to high school horror collections."
--- School Library Journal
"I do love an unreliable narrator (or two) and this endlessly twisty psychological horror manipulated from the off. A Buzz Book of the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2014, this is Orion imprint Indigo's biggest debut title of the year."
--- The Bookseller
". . . insightful characterization and a detailed exploration of the importance of the emergent identity to the teenage self."
--- Publisher's Weekly
"What an evil and original story. You can't stop reading Kaitlyn's diary. But is she real? It's a mystery inside a mystery--and the shocks keep coming. Scary stuff!"
--- R.L. Stine, bestselling author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series
"All I could think when I finished THE DEAD HOUSE was that the author, Dawn Kurtagich, has an amazing mind. Creepy, but amazing. I loved it."
--- Christopher Pike, bestselling author of THIRST
"Full of twists, buried secrets, and enough disturbing corpses to please the most discerning horror lover, THE DEAD HOUSE is a thoroughly engrossing read. Diary entries, psychiatrist records, and transcripts from the investigation keep the pages turning late into the night. This is a harrowing tale, cleverly told."
--- Kendare Blake, author of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD
"Kurtagich weaves a terrifying and mind-bending tale reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft. This is one of the best horror debuts I've read in a long time!"
--- J.R. Johansson, author of CUT ME FREE and The Night Walkers Series
“The Dead House is a seamless blend of the supernatural and the psychological. Creepy, compelling, and compulsively readable.”
--- Victoria Schwab, author of THE ARCHIVED and VICIOUS
'Spine-chilling,gruesome and mysterious;an exciting debut... difficult to put down,and even harder to forget'
From Publisher's Weekly:
LBYR in Global Deal for YA Debut
Alvina Ling, the executive editorial director at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, bought U.S. rights to Dawn Kurtagich’s debut YA novel, The Dead House, as part of a two-book deal. The psychological thriller was also acquired, simultaneously, in the U.K. by Jenny Glencross at Indigo (Orion’s YA imprint). Greenhouse Literary’s Sarah Davies orchestrated the U.S. sale, while Polly Nolan handled the U.K. one. Dead House, which is set for fall 2015, is about the discovery of a diary in the ruins of a high school that burned down a quarter-century earlier. The diary was written by the twin sister of a student who disappeared in the fire. LBYR said the novel is a “dark and compelling tale of lies, mystery, and deceit that will keep readers guessing until the very end.” The second book in the deal is currently untitled and unscheduled. Kurtagich, who lives in Wales but grew up in Africa, writes for YA blogs and is a member of the YA League.
From The Bookseller:
Orion’s YA imprint Indigo has acquired a debut YA psychological thriller from Wales-based writer Dawn Kurtagich in a six-figure pre-empt, simultaneously with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in the US.
Indigo commissioning editor Jenny Glencross acquired the UK and translation rights for The Dead House in a two-book deal from Polly Nolan at the Greenhouse Literary Agency.
Simultaneously, Alvina Ling, executive editorial at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers acquired the US rights from Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary.
The Dead House is a psychological thriller based around the diary of a girl whom no-one is sure ever existed.
Glencross said the book blew her away with its “unsettling narrative” and “confident, fresh voice”. She said: “It’s utterly compelling and unforgettable, and hard to believe it’s a debut. Dawn is an exciting new YA voice and a rising star.”
Ling said: "The Dead House had me riveted from the first page, and kept me guessing until the very end. This is a book that will stay with you for a long time, a book that readers are going to be urging their friends to read, just so that they can talk about it together.”
Dawn Kurtagich's THE DEAD HOUSE, about the discovery of a diary in the ruins of a high school that burned down a quarter-century earlier, to Alvina Ling at Little, Brown Children's, and Jenny Glencross in the UK in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2015, by Sarah Davies in the US and Polly Nolan in the UK, both at Greenhouse Literary Agency.