The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | Is it paranormal? Is it psychological? Well, it’s up to you to decide


So on the last week of October, I decided to reread one of my favourite books, The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich.

And since I’m always trying to get more people to read Dawn Kurtagich books, I made this week into a little readalong with my friends Charlotte (@BookmarksAndBlogging), Aimee (@lovelybookloves) and Molly (@Molly’sBookNook).

And now that my love has been renewed, I’m here to write a new review. Yes – a NEW one, because the review I had before was uploaded right at the beginning of my blogging life…that meaning, it was rubbish. Here’s to hoping this one will do it more justice.

So let’s talk about The Dead House!


Title: The Dead House

Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Publisher: Indigo

Series Status: Standalone

Genre: Young Adult, Horror

Number of Pages:  440


(Found on back cover, see another version on Goodreads)

Twenty-five years ago.

Elmbridge High School burned down. Three students were killed in the blaze, twenty were injured, and one, Carly Johnson, disappeared.

For two decades, little was uncovered about what became known as the “Johnson Incident”.

Until now.


*Originally read in 2015

Ohhhh I remember why I love this book so much now.

So, SO much.

This book is the ultimate book for gripping plots. It’s presented as a case file for when a boarding school burned down years ago. The case has been reopened, and this book is all the evidence provided – interviews, diary entries, video footage, newspaper clippings, etc.

How interesting does that sound?

And not only that. Ohhhh there’s my favourite thing yet. And that is…

This book is surrounded by this psychological vs paranormal battle. You read this case, and it’s not clear what’s real and what’s not. You’re just reading the evidence. You have to decide for yourself which side of the story YOU believe. It’s not an easy war between sides either. Just when you start believing one thing, some new evidence will be thrown in that might just rock your mindset out of balance, making you turn the rest of the pages even quicker than before.

And let’s face it – the puzzle of an unsolved case? A case so twisted it was never figured out? You have to admit that morbid interest kicks in. You want to know all the grizzly details, the events that took place. You want to see the evidence.

All the mystery, all the intrigue, all the darkness just makes this book so intense. It’s ridiculously easy to get lost in this book, reading 200 pages without even realising. And while frantically flipping the pages, reading the scrawl of a…delusional? haunted?…girl, you can’t help but feel a little bit crazy with her.

“There are places. Abandoned places. Forgotten places. These are the places I like to be.”

Granted, I didn’t feel much of an emotional connection with the characters. I didn’t care much for any possible romances, or even the friendships. But for this book, I don’t actually think that’s much of an issue. It’s a case file, after all. That detachment from the people involved gives you the real sense of just reading about these events, and judging with no emotional value clouding your judgement.

This is definitely the sort of book you can really discuss with people. Like I said, there’s a battle between psychological and paranormal, so everyone reads this book differently. Everyone believes something different. And it’s genuinely so interesting to see what other people think, and where they got those ideas from. Which pieces of evidence stood out to them most. Seeing if there’s anything you might have overlooked.

I can’t get over how imaginative and unique this book is. It’s dark, gripping, twisted, and thrilling…and without a doubt one of my favourite books.

Rated 5/5 stars!




Share your thoughts!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

If you haven’t read this book, do you plan to?

Maybe you’ve read Dawn’s other book, The Creeper Man?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…


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7 thoughts on “The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | Is it paranormal? Is it psychological? Well, it’s up to you to decide

  1. I think I’ll have to pick this one up!! 😄 I read And The Trees Crept In and really enjoyed it but ended up being to scared to finish. I’m a chicken. 😂 but you have me intrigued Ashleigh!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really, REALLY need to read this book. I bought the ebook a few months ago and was planning on reading it during October, but I didn’t end up getting to it. Of course I now have a bunch of library books I need to get through so I probably won’t get to it this month either. 😛 Hopefully soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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