The story centres around the mystery surrounding Carly/Kaitlyn’s existence and this mystery weaves throughout the book. Are they a product of some paranormal incident, or are they really just one girl suffering from dissociative identity disorder? The mystery pulls you along and there are a number of revelations that make you think one way and then the other. Kaitlyn is kind of dark and crazy and you can never really trust what she says in her diary entries. Similarly, all the witnesses to the incident have their own agendas and the whole thing left me feeling off-kilter, but in a good way. There's also a nice voodoo-ish element, just to spook things up even further!
The thing I liked most about The Dead House was the format. It’s told Blair-Witch-style in a found-footage format - transcripts of police interviews, video footage, psychiatrist notes and diary entries. We even get post-it notes. In a way it was frustrating because you never really get the full picture of what is happening, but it made it very compelling too. There were parts of the book where I couldn’t put it down. And knowing that the story doesn’t have a happily ever after ending immediately made things creepy and I had a real sense of build-up to the inevitable tragedy.
The style of writing varied throughout the book - obviously the official interviews were very formal, but Kaitlyn’s diary entries varied in tone as well and there was a real sense of her descending into madness in the run-up to the tragedy.
The only thing I wasn’t really that keen on with this book was its length. It could probably have lost about a hundred pages without the plot suffering too much. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but there were definitely times when I wished the pace would pick up a bit. Kaitlyn’s rambling got a bit wearysome at times. I got that she was going through stuff, but I wished she’d just get to the point!
This book has been marketed as YA Horror, and while it certainly had spooky, spine-tingling elements, I would hesitate to recommend it to true horror aficionados. It was more mysterious and eerie than properly scary. Nevertheless, it was a fun read and worth taking a look at, especially if you like unreliable narrators and never really knowing the truth about a situation!
I received a copy of The Dead House in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Orion Children’s Books and Netgalley.