The Dead House

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Dead House Book Poster Image
Intense horror thriller might go too far for some readers.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Dead House spotlights dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as "multiple-personality disorder." It's open to debate how accurate it is.

Positive Messages

Loyalty is a worthy quality in a person, so long as it's not taken to an extreme. It's dangerous to be involved in the occult.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters in The Dead House are a dark and difficult group of teens, prone to keeping secrets, pushing boundaries, and acting in anything but their own best interests. The main character, Kaitlyn, wants to protect her "sister" Carly, but she ends up hurting many of the people around her.


The violence level rises to a crescendo in the climactic chapters of The Dead House. A girl cuts out her own tongue. Two teens engage in a bloody fistfight. A well-meaning boy is stabbed in the jugular. Another dies in a fall. Others die in a fire.


Kaitlyn loses her virginity in a scene in which she and a boy make love in an abandoned church.They have other intimate encounters, the physical details of which are not given.


Occasional use of "damn," "bitch," and "hell"; multiple uses of "s--t," "f--k," and their variants.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol is served at a student party. Scene at a cult ritual involves alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dead House is an intense horror thriller about dissociative identity disorder and demonic possession. The main characters are two "sisters" who share the same body, and together they instigate a series of tragedies at a high school. The concluding chapters are especially violent, featuring a fatal stabbing, deaths by fire and falls, and a character who cuts out her own tongue. Scenes with sexual content include one in which the main character loses her virginity in an abandoned church. Strong language ranges from "damn," "hell," and "bitch" to many multiple uses of "s--t," "f--k," and their variants. Two scenes -- one at a teen party, another at a cult ceremony -- include alcohol consumption.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written byallie.86 June 4, 2021


the main character has sex a few times. not graphic at all, just mentioned. a lot of descriptive violence, lots of talk about religion. swearing is pretty frequ... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byNadia_Ferguson12 May 25, 2016


I love how this might play in with regular life, i loved how the story and the feelings of Kaitlyn and Carly were so real. Sometimes I wanted to punch people th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson are two souls who share one body. Carly appears during the day, and Kaitlyn emerges at night. Twenty years ago, their school, Elmbridge High, burned down, three teens lost their lives, and Carly/Kaitlyn disappeared. THE DEAD HOUSE tells their story through psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage, and a recently discovered diary. 

Is it any good?

Filled with unexpected plot twists and turns, this chilling thriller mixes mental illness and the supernatural in ways that leave readers guessing until the end. (And they may be scratching their heads further on.) Dawn Kurtagich's writing gets a bit overwrought sometimes, but that's understandable given the level of angst experienced by the characters. All in all, The Dead House is an ambitious, creepy debut. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mental illness. How could you get help for a friend in psychological distress?

  • Why are stories about the occult so popular? Is studying the supernatural dangerous in any way?

  • What would it be like to be conscious only during the day or only at night? What kinds of adjustments would you have to make to fit that schedule?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

Themes & Topics

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