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I wanted to read something frightening and shocking for the Halloween season, instead I read Your House Is on Fire. There are moments of real terror, don't misunderstand me, moments where there are devils (both real and human) moments of unimaginable cruelty. And yes, I found it impossible to guess where the story would go next. But that said, there is no summation, there is no climax, there is no sense that the atrocities in this book meant anything or that they culminated. Instead at one point they just stop. It's not scary, it's just sad.
Told from the points of view of several children in a small town in Germany in the middle of the century, you see as their world turns into horror. There is a baking competition that turns deadly, an ice fishing trip with the worst bet in the world, and a peak through the ground and into hell itself. But with all these great elements, there is no larger story to keep you reading late into the night.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I came across a review of this book at another website and it summed up my feelings perfectly, so I’m going to quote a bit of it here:
“I’m at a loss to aptly describe the effect of Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. It’s an eerily detached novel, with characters that range from emotionless to desperate, governed by tradition, superstition and even the supernatural. It’s an unsettling book. A quiet book. A surreal book. I’m not sure how I feel about it.”
I don’t know how I feel about the book either.
Hemmersmoor is a small, isolated village with a dark history. Your House Is on Fire tells the story of five friends who grew up in the village and return as middle-aged men and women to attend a funeral. The story is told from the various perspectives of the five. There is murder, rape, incest, bigotry and petty cruelty throughout, and not one of these characters is the least bit likable or sympathetic. Not one. For that reason alone the book was hard to get through.
The story is also beautifully written. Craftily written. Hemmersmor villagers are layered in secrets, and as the children grow up and tell their stories these secrets are revealed, peeled away like layers of an onion to slowly and quietly expose the dark heart of this poisoned community.
I usually like my audiobooks to be 10 hours or more, but this time I was thankful that this was a short one. It left a sour taste in my mind and I had to immediately watch a cheesy comedy after it was over. I didn’t want these characters in my head for too long. They are fictional. The horror is how ordinary and real they are.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful