A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Dead House spotlights dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as "multiple-personality disorder." It's open to debate how accurate it is.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Occasional use of "damn," "bitch," and "hell"; multiple uses of "s--t," "f--k," and their variants.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol is served at a student party. Scene at a cult ritual involves alcohol.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.