Book Review – Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye

imageLast October, Entertainment Weekly published a list entitled “Seven Demonic Possession Books to Freak You Out“. This has basically serves as a checklist for me, given that one of my favorite movies is The Exorcist, and one of the best books I read this year was A Head Full of Ghosts. So, let’s start working through these, shall we? Strap in. Not literally, you won’t be able to turn the pages.

First up is the wonderfully titled Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. The book starts in a relatively normal fashion. A group of childhood friends return to the place where they grew up (a fictional German town called Hemmersmore), to attend the funeral of one of their number. It’s only when one of the female members of the party starts pissing on the grave of the recently deceased that things become a little uneasy.

The bulk of the book by Martin, Christian, and Linde, who recount the strange events from when they were growing up. There are ‘The Lottery‘ style village killings, a strange carnival, abuse, intrigue, betrayal, and general weirdness. It’s absolutely bonkers and I loved every page. I devoured it over the space of one day.

The thing I love about this book is that absolutely awful episodes seemingly comes from nowhere, but the creepy uncertainty is quite cleverly seeded throughout the book. Some of it is so strange that I often questioned whether this is just something the children have made up, but the stories cleverly interweave with each other.

This book has been compared to Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, and I don’t think that’s fair. The evil in this book is much more subtle. If you woke up with one of these characters at the end of your bed, you wouldn’t worry about whether they’d merely kill you; the real fear comes from not knowing exactly what these kids are capable of.

But this isn’t just a book about weird kids and the strange place they inhabit, the relationship between young women Linde and Anke is very believable, full of competition and insecurity. Some of the cruelest actions can come from the brains of teenage girls.

Your House is on Fire is a little gem. When I finished it, I wanted to immediately start it again. It’s a quick read, although you may want to get through it as fast as you can just so you can escape the world of Hemmersmore relatively unscathed.

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