The Death House was in the top five of many best lists at the end of last year and I understand why. It is stark and creepy. The lack of back-story and world-building adds to the bleakness of it all. We become invested in these characters that are brought together through their impending death. Their search for hope (in God, in romance, in each other) becomes our quest as well.
Of course, we know this will all end in tragedy, but we have to read on.