Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel

( 9 )

Overview

Shirley Jackson meets The Twilight Zone in this riveting novel of supernatural horror—for readers who loved Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A village on the Devil‘s Moor: a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition. There is the grand manor house whose occupants despise the villagers, the small pub whose regulars talk of revenants, the old mill no one dares to mention. This is where four young friends come of age—in an ...

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Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel

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Overview

Shirley Jackson meets The Twilight Zone in this riveting novel of supernatural horror—for readers who loved Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A village on the Devil‘s Moor: a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition. There is the grand manor house whose occupants despise the villagers, the small pub whose regulars talk of revenants, the old mill no one dares to mention. This is where four young friends come of age—in an atmosphere thick with fear and suspicion. Their innocent games soon bring them face-to-face with the village‘s darkest secrets in this eerily dispassionate, astonishingly assured novel, infused with the spirit of the Brothers Grimm and evocative of Stephen King‘s classic short story “Children of the Corn” and the films The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke and Village of the Damned by Wolf Rilla. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Can a terrible history generate a terrible present? That is the question posed by German-born author Kiesbye’s dark second work of fiction (after Next Door Lived a Girl), composed of linked stories set in an archetypal rural German town in what seems to be the immediate postwar period. As in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, the vague setting heightens the narrative tension, as Christian, first, provides us with a framing device in the funeral of Anke, one of a group of young friends now elderly and distant. Each tells their story in flashback, a perspective that suits the delicate prose. Extraordinary things happened to the villagers 40 years earlier. Some are tinged with the supernatural—a traveling carnival worker hints at mysterious origins; an annual cooking contest ends badly—and some are truly horrifying: incest, child murder, and a father’s brutal act of violence that leaves permanent scars. Why are these things happening in Hemmersmoor? Are tales of witches and curses to be believed? Or does the real reason lie at the end of the railroad tracks? Too subtle to be lurid yet too spooky for comfort, this book should appeal to readers of psychological fiction and literary tales of the supernatural. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Literary. (Oct.)
Library Journal
I've been promised that this is a really spooky novel—right down to the title, taken from the dark nursery rhyme; it's billed as Shirley Jackson meets The X-Files. The setting is Hemmersmoor, where fear creeps around every corner; four village children are about to find out what's going on. From the author of There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby—clearly, Kiesbye has a macabre turn of mind.
Kirkus Reviews
Infidelity, bullying, savage beatings, sororicide, curses, murder and the devil himself all come into play in this quietly savage meditation on evil. In an age when "torture porn" still makes regular returns to the multiplex every Halloween, it's worth being reminded that novelists, especially gifted ones, can make the trespasses we inflict on others just as ghastly as any chain-saw massacre. German-born novelist Kiesbye (Next Door Lived a Girl, 2005) gives it his all in a series of interconnected stories that smack of shades of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. With a title lightly copied from an old Tom Waits growler ("Your house is on fire, children are alone," from the song "Jockey Full of Bourbon"), the novel opens on a present-day funeral in the frigid community of Hemmersmoor, a seemingly pastoral village in northern Germany. Christian, who fled the village for years, has returned with childhood friends Alex, Martin and Linde to bury their companion, Anke. But it's soon obvious that all is not what it seems when Linde spits on her friend's grave and murmurs, "I just hope she can see me from hell." From this moment, the lives of these little monsters unfold, each chapter read by a different narrator. Christian unveils a horrible confession of a murder committed to gain admission to a carnival tent. Martin tells of a botched festival that ends in the communal murder of a foreigner and her children. Alex dares a classmate to try his luck in the frigid waters of a frozen pond. The narration, as with all the stories, is both clinically dispassionate and chilling. "We threw his shoes and his clothes after him that night, along with the fifty marks. We made a solemn pact to keep quiet forever," Kiesbye writes. Not always clear, but nearly always startling. A devious intimation of homegrown terrors likely to keep readers awake long after closing time has come and gone.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143121466
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 380,797
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Stefan Kiesbye has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Born on the German coast of the Baltic Sea, he moved to Berlin in the early 1980s. He studied drama and worked in radio before starting a degree in American studies, English, and comparative literature at Berlin's Freie Universität. A scholarship brought him to Buffalo, New York, in 1996. Kiesbye now lives in Portales, New Mexico, where he teaches creative writing at Eastern New Mexico University. He is also the arts editor of Absinthe: New European Writing. His stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and his first book, Next Door Lived a Girl, won the Low Fidelity Press Novella Award and was praised by Peter Ho Davies as "utterly gripping," by Charles Baxter as "both laconic and feverish," and by Robert Olmstead as "maddeningly powerful."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2013

    Strange Stories, Strange Town and a Plot That Kept Me Guessing

    It's so rare to come across a horror story that does something new. Kiesbye does just that. My husband found a two line review of this book in an entertainment magazine while waiting in a doctor's office and pass the book's title on to me because he thought the title alone was worth a mention at the dinner table.. I'm glad he did. Written from the different perspectives of four people who grew up in the same small German town, each chapter weaves into the next with strange plot twists and shocking town news that is reported with about as much excitement as a weather forecast. That's what makes each chapter so eerie in my mind. The characters stuck with me long after I finished the book and the setting took me to a place and a culture that is rarely written about. I recommend this one to friends who like a good, morbid scare AND a quick read. Well done, Kiesbye.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    the accounts seem eerily real

    The tale is told from the points of view of four children who grew up in this remote village. They are Christian, Anke, Martin and Linde. While the book reads like a collection of short stories the author ties them beautifully together from Christian's POV. Christen has returned home after a death in the family. While there he revisits his youth. I wasn’t so much scared by the tales as totally freaked out and fearful of the unknown. Told in a matter-of-fact tone each tale made me shiver. The stories overlap in time frame and that added to the tale. Kiesbye makes the accounts seem eerily real and I had to remind myself this is fiction. From the ominous Kamphoff manor, to the family that mysteriously disappears and the child who murders; these tales will definitely give you the chills. The author cleverly revealed bits and pieces and set bait to keep you on edge. Is this town cursed? Are the people possessed? Is something in the water? The thrill in these tales lie in how close they come to reality and the way in which the author shares them with you. The synopsis refers to the Brothers Grim and this town definitely gives off similar vibes. (shivers) I want to thank Penguin books for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    What I love about this book are some of the sentences. They are

    What I love about this book are some of the sentences. They are so precise and beautifully written and made everything very visual.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2013

    Spooky

    Spooky.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Well done

    This was a wonderful well written book and i look forwarf to more if the authors work.

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    Posted February 28, 2013

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    Posted November 3, 2012

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    Posted February 3, 2013

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    Posted October 4, 2012

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