The Dead House

Dawn Kurtagich. Little, Brown, $18 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-29868-1
Told through a retrospective collection of found evidence surrounding the deaths of several students in a boarding school fire, Kurtagich’s debut novel is deeply disturbing and fraught with emotion. Carly and Kaitlyn Johnson are two separate personalities sharing the same body and have done so for as long as either can remember. After the death of their parents, Carly and Kaitlyn’s time is split between treatment in a psychiatric hospital and studying at a British boarding school; it’s at school where their comfortable dissociative routine begins to unravel under mysterious and arcane circumstances. Their slowly expanding group of friends houses a traitor, and Kaitlyn is left to search for Carly after her alter ego’s persona disappears. Psychological self-indulgence wars with fascinating introspection as diary entries and transcripts of video footage and therapy sessions chronicle a teenager’s descent into and out of madness. Contrived tension and a haphazard time line ring a few discordant notes, but are balanced by insightful characterization and a detailed exploration of the importance of the emergent identity to the teenage self. Ages 15–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/2015
Release date: 09/15/2015
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-316-29867-4
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