A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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?
- Author: Dawn Kurtagich
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: September 15, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.