PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Piecemeal storytelling is the found footage of the literary world. The idea of assembling a story from journal entries, first-person accounts, and medical reports is nothing new, but much like its movie equivalent cousin, it only works when done well and it tends to lend itself to horror. The Dead House is a clever attempt at doing something new with this very familiar format that doesn’t quite make the grade.

The plot is a fairly convoluted one. Our main protagonist is Carly Johnson; a teenage girl who has been diagnosed with psychological issues following the death of her parents. Carly is a shy, well behaved and studious lady. Kaitlyn Johnson is her rebellious sister who curses, swears and picks fights. The twist is that they share the same body, with Kaitlyn only coming out at night and Carly having the day. The reason why may be supernatural, or it may not.

The bulk of the story is told through Kaitlyn’s diary, and as the tale progresses, we learn more about Kaitlyn’s dark nature. Various excerpts and reports littered throughout the book refer to a thing called ‘The Johnson Incident’, a tragic event that led investigators to look for Kaitlyn’s diary in the first place.
The main problem is that the third-party storytelling style makes it hard to actually engage with the main protagonists. Add to this the fact both the plot and the storytelling method has been done many times before, and the result is a messy and rather boring journey. It is very tightly written and Kurtagich clearly has a firm handle on her world and its characters. It’s simply that the story fails to grip the reader, despite multiple attempts to draw you in.

If the plot and style of The Dead House sounds original and innovative to you, then you’ll probably have a lot of fun with the book. It’s well written and aimed at the inexperienced reader. If you’ve heard it all before, however, be aware that there is nothing new for you here.


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