[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]
“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.”
[Only the latter part really gives you any idea of what to expect.]
Another friend recommendation for unsettling-ness. When she first handed it to be I was pretty shocked at how tiny this book is. I mean, this thing is not very long at all. It’s not even 200 pages, but it doesn’t need to be girthy – this little book packs a punch.
So pretty much from the get-go, you realize that this book is based in Germany. While I’m not sure if this book was originally written in German and then translated, or written directly in English, one thing that I noticed is that there are a LOT of German references. Both with German legends/lore and also just random little snippets of one thing or another. A word in German here and there, random cities or kinds of houses mentioned, even the kind of a cabinet.
Being that I grew up in a German household [in which once upon a time I could speak the language fluently when I was tiny] I recognized a lot of what the book was referencing. Some of the legends I vaguely recognized, some I knew what the book had laid out immediately. [Including that the title is based on a nursery rhyme that I definitely heard as a kid. Look it up sometime] But don’t let this be distracting, you can still get what’s going on without issue even if you don’t understand half of the references.
The second part you notice is that there is a lot of damned death in this book. Really, just prepare yourself to be frequently feeling uncomfortable the entirety of reading this story. All the deaths happen in weird, unexpected, or uncomfortable/shocking ways. A lot of kid-on-kid death, baby killing, regular deaths, horrible ways of death. Really, there’s just a lot of bad stuff in general in this book. There are some parts of rape and just weird sexual experiences as well. But while you’re reading this and may be like: ‘Why the hell would I read this, then?’
Because… it’s just written so elegantly and so well. There’s never an over-done amount of detail put into these particular scenes, where you want to just stop and skip ahead a few paragraphs. Never once did I feel the want/need to stop reading to sigh and check how much more of the book I had left to go through. If I had the ability, I would have sat down and put aside a few hours to read it without stopping.
The story mainly focuses on a handful of children, their lives in their incredibly small, superstitious, and just plain awful home town, and reaching their late teens/adulthood. You learn about many of the other inhabitants and all the awful things they have done, and just how dark the town’s secrets are.
If you’ve ever lived in a small, superstitious [and awful] town, which I definitely have, this book is strangely eerie and hits close to home. Despite all of the horrible things that happen, it’s almost as though once your initial shock is over, it’s almost realistic that something like that could happen in a town like that. Also, how no one can mind their business, how no one can leave well enough alone, etc.
Additionally, when there’s a limited amount of people your age to interact with, a limited amount of things to do… when you’re in those hormone-raging years of being a teenager? You do some weird shit. Just saying. This book includes that tidbit quite well.
Another part I loved about this book, is how the characters react, [or in some cases, don’t react] to the horrible things that happen. The author writes these reactions in their character development and they do it so well.
Other than another reminder of there are a lot of rape/murder/death scenes in this book, I don’t really have anything criticizing to say, honestly. I thought about it and even though there’s some suuuuper fucked up things that happen, I didn’t get really overly annoyed it. It just increased my interest in the story to see what was going to happen next. There are a lot of incredibly depressing parts, though. Some characters are screwed over so badly that it almost hurts.
But overall, I was incredibly impressed with it. Highly suggested!
I give Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone 5/5 Awkward Pheromone-Driven Teenaged Memories
“Time is of no importance. In our village Time didn’t progress courageously. In our village, She limped a bit, got lost more than once, and always ended up at Frick’s bar and in one of Jen Jensen’s tall tales.”