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Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel Paperback – September 25, 2012
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“Chilling . . . inflicting both terror and wonder. . . . Kiesbye digs deep . . . and comes up with horrific gold. . . . There is just one word potent enough to describe [it]: the novel is sublime.” —BookPage
“As in Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery,’ the vague setting heightens the narrative tension. . . . 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.” —Publishers Weekly
“[A] wicked novel . . . Stunning . . . [There is a] quiet, unnerving effect [to] Kiesbye’s Brothers Grimm–like prose. . . . An episodic, poetic, nightmarish offspring of Grace Metalious’s Peyton Placeand Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.” —Booklist
“Nearly always startling . . . Quietly savage . . . Clinically dispassionate and chilling . . . Smack[s] of shades of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King . . . 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.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A very elegant nightmare, so appalling and so beautiful.” —Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry
“By turns creepy, sensitive, unsettling, and beautifully written, but best of all, it provokes dark stirrings while always providing great pleasure. Stefan Kiesbye would be a writer to watch out for if he had not so clearly already arrived.” —Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone
“Creepy in a way that actually made me quite nervous.” —Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
“With a chilling twist here and there, a sly, stark wit, and a fascinating cast of lost boys and girls, Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone is part nostalgia trip and part horror show, as honest and heartfelt as The Virgin Suicides in its portrait of adolescent yearning, anxieties, and heartbreak.” —Timothy Schaffert, author of The Coffins of Little Hope
“A brilliant amalgam of Faulkner, the Brothers Grimm, and Günter Grass as if condensed for intensity.” —Josip Novakovich, author of Fiction Writing Workshop and Writing Fiction Step By Step
“Quick, hypnotic, and intensely creepy. The characters are all doomed. ‘Doomed to what?’ is the only question, and you won’t put the book down until you find out.” —Christopher Buehlman, author of Those Across the River and Between Two Fires
“Full of dark folk magic and frightful, lurid wonder. It casts a spell, winking all the way through every grim detail and shadowy secret.” —Paul Elwork, author of The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel consists of a series of connected stories. It begins with the sparsely attended funeral of Anke, the final occupant of the von Kamphoff manor in the Village of Hemmersmoor. A widower named Christian Bobinski sets the stage with his description of Anke's funeral. The stories that follow are told from the perspectives of individuals who, like Christian and Anke, lived in Hemmersmoor during their childhood and adolescence. Their stories are set in a time when concentration camps had only recently closed, when Germany was newly divided by a wall.
Ghost stories and tales of the supernatural abound in Hemmersmoor. Horrible events have plagued the superstitious village residents -- or so the stories go -- from the heir to the von Kamphoff manor who mysteriously vanished (and is said to be wandering the manor's hedge maze) to the miller who sold his soul to the devil after Swedish troops tortured and killed his family during the Thirty Years' War. Do spirits and witches really roam the village? Is the village cursed? Or are the gossipy, mean-spirited villagers reaping exactly what they have sown?Read more ›
I'm not the first reviewer to point out that if you're expecting "gothic" or "horror" or "the supernatural" then you're going to be disappointed (as several reviewers were). It's true that the blurbs refer to Shirley Jackson and Stephen King (and the Grimms and others) but before I was very deeply into the book I felt as though I was in the worlds of Jerzy Kosinski ("The Painted Bird") and Cormac McCarthy ("Blood Meridian")-- novels filled with unspeakable acts related as ordinary behavior or excellent solutions to the problems at hand.
This is what Kiesbye's writing about.
Kiesbye doesn't write about "the supernatural." He writes about people who behave as if supernatural forces were not only real, but active participants in daily life. This is as much the case in the modern United States as in rural post-war Germany, but that's another matter.
You will not find wailing demons, witches, imps and sprites and more potent evil spirits in this book, but you will find people who believe in those things, and you'll see how those beliefs shaped their behavior.
This distinction ("the supernatural" versus "belief in the supernatural") is to me a simple and obvious one but it seems to have escaped many of the reviewers who didn't like the book.
I'm an anthropologist and so I'm used to thinking about how people can behave as if a supernatural world were real.Read more ›
There's something so delightfully appalling about Stefan Kiesbye's YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE. Reading the book is like watching the aftermath of a bad car accident; you know you should turn away and go about your business...but yet your eye lingers as you subtly try to catch a glimpse of something you know you shouldn't see. It's this wicked subconscious that beckons when you pick up this book. And there's absolutely no reason to resist the temptation, either; indulging in this book will satisfy every immoral craving you might have.
YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE is a collection of decadently evil stories told from the perspectives of four children of Hemmersmoor, a village on the Devil's Moor. Each story is written in the first person, as if the children themselves are doing the telling, which makes each much more powerful.
This book is one of the best I have read so far in 2012. I have to admit that I was not familiar with author Stefan Kiesbye's work prior to this one but I will definitely be checking out everything else he has done. Needless to say, I am his newest big fan.
Kiesbye writes with an elegant yet simple style, which allows for total immersion into these tales. His prose flows smoothly, like aged cognac, and I never once found myself having to back-track in my reading. To say Kiesbye is a talented writer is like telling an eagle that it can fly well.
One of the most tantalizing aspects about YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE is that each story starts off so simple and innocently. But as the tale progresses, the reader can almost literally feel the dread and darkness as it sweeps into the story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I cannot believe what I read in this book. The most shocking things are told with such nonchalance! It's very well-written, albeit horrifying. Enjoy!!Published 3 months ago by Natalie Krueger
Creepy, mesmerizing , and shocking. Yes it is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's work. But where her stories get up close and stab you with its shocking twist, this work slowly sucks... Read morePublished 9 months ago by slayerofsmurfs
This book is a collection of interconnected short stories about a group of malevolent children. Perhaps calling the malevolent is unfair, but each story builds two an inevitably... Read morePublished 13 months ago by LostContacts
This was a very strange but super enjoyable book. A must-read for all horror buffs!
Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone is broken into chapters focused around... Read more
With poetic verse, Kiesbye, delivers a shocking portrayal of the human mind. A novel that blows away your thoughts, and resides even a year after reading. Read more
Basically, this book boils down to superstitious, suspicious, abusive, lustful people destroying each other's lives in cruel, selfish ways in a small town in post-WWII Germany. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Joel E. Mitchell
I DIDN'TLIKE THIS NOVEL AT ALL SINCE IT WAS TOO WEIRD AND CREEPY. I COULDN'T CONNECT WITH ANY CHARACTERS AND FOUND IT DEPRESSING. Read morePublished 20 months ago by virginia j. king
I agree with previous reviewers that the characters in this book are almost uniformly unlikeable, but I thought the book was interesting, probably because it kept surprising me... Read morePublished 21 months ago by LW
This is a very disconnected, attempting-to-be (and not succeeding) atmospheric bit of writing. I'm really not sure what is going on, but none of it is remotely pleasant or... Read morePublished 22 months ago by S. O'Connor