It could easily be dubbed the year of horror YA. Between Nova Ren Suma’s incredible The Walls Around Us, Alexandra Sirowy’s The Creeping, and the anthology Slasher Girls and Monster Boys – to name only a few – YA horror has splashed onto the scene this year with some incredible books. Joining their ranks is Dawn Kurtagich‘s The Dead House.
In The Dead House, it’s been two decades since the fire that murdered five at Elmbridge High School. One of those girls vanished without a trace, until a diary is found hidden in the ruins. But the diary doesn’t belong to Carly, the girl who vanished. It belongs to Kaitlyn, her dark and twisted alter-ego.
The police reopen the case, digging through psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails… but what is the truth?
Below, Dawn Kurtagich lets us take a peek into Kaitlyn’s mind, sharing with us Kaitlyn’s favorite scary story.
My mother once told me to be careful what I wish for, and to reign in my curiosity. “It killed the cat,” she’d chime, and wink just to be sure I knew she was only half serious. I would laugh, and then she’d always turn back and add, “I mean it Kaitie. Be careful of your curiosity.”
My favourite scary story is about a bored man who obviously never had a mother like mine.
Danny Parker was a business man who hated his job. The only decent thing about it was the traveling, but even then he only went to boring Holiday Inns and motels. But one day, he was surprised to discover that he would be going to a little known town near Edinburgh and staying in a very old, very beautiful, and very expensive hotel. Danny Parker could hardly believe his luck.
The hours and hours from London to Edinburgh were worth it, he decided, when he reached the hotel. It was more than he had ever dreamed of. A palatial manor house standing in the middle of perfectly kept lawns, with a luxury spa attached— free for any guest to use. When he walked up the steps to reception, he was grinning.
He greeted the receptionist and checked-in, grinning like a schoolboy. The receptionist, however, seemed hesitant to actually pass him his key. She told him that there was a door with no number on his way to his room. It was a storage room, she explained, and was out of bounds to guests. He nodded, and held out his hand for the key. She handed it to him, but before she released it, reminded him about the storage room being out of bounds.
Danny Parker was so tired that he did as he was instructed and went to bed.
The following night, however, curiosity got the better of him. He wondered why she has been so insistent about a storage room. Why she felt the need to mention it twice. And so, he walked down the hall to the door and tried the handle. Sure enough it was locked. He bent down and looked through the wide keyhole. Cold air passed through it, chilling his eye. What he saw was a hotel bedroom, like his, and in the corner stood a woman whose skin was incredibly pale. She was leaning her head against the wall, facing away from the door. He stared in confusion for a while. Was this a celebrity? The owner’s daughter? He thought about knocking, but remembered that he wasn’t supposed to be looking in the first place.
As he was still looking, the woman turned sharply and Danny Parker jumped back from the door, hoping she wouldn’t suspect he’d been spying on her like some kind of pervert. He crept away from the door and walked back to his room.
He couldn’t stop thinking about the woman in the room all night, and even a visit to the spa didn’t help. The following day, he returned to the door and looked through the wide keyhole. This time, all he saw was redness. He couldn’t make anything out besides a distinct red color, unmoving.
Realising with deep embarrassment that the woman had probably heard him outside her door and suspected someone was watching, she had probably blocked the keyhole with a strip or red cloth or something. He felt deeply embarrassed that he had made the woman so uncomfortable, and suddenly very glad that the door had kept his identity hidden.
But curiosity kept growing. He simply had to know what was the story behind the door. He decided to ask the receptionist.
She sighed and said, “You looked through the keyhole.”
Danny Parker smiled and rubbed his chin, but owned up to it.
“Well, I might as well tell you the story of what happened in that room. No point keeping it from you now. A long time ago, a man murdered his wife in there. It was pretty bad.
Danny Parker frowned. Creepy, sure. But why close the room.
“We find that even now,” the receptionist continued, “whoever stays there gets very uncomfortable. But that man and his wife were not ordinary people. They were white all over—hair, skin and clothes—except for their eyes. Their eyes were red.”
Sometimes you’re better not looking through the keyhole. You never know who might be looking back.