Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

With Halloween right around the corner, I recommend picking up Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. It will definitely leave you feeling disturbed and haunted by the nature of the human psyche and what it can do to people. The cover is rather haunting as well, especially if you bring it up close to make out the rest of text. This was a wonderfully written story from the point of view of the main characters from the tiny sheltered village of Hemmersmoor, Germany.

The story opens with the return of Christian to attend the funeral of Anke, a childhood friend who had resided in the von Kamphoff manor, which has its own mysterious history. He is reunited with some old friends who have never left or returned soon after leaving – everyone seems to be drawn back to the tiny village. The story then proceeds to be told from the point of view of all of the childhood friends including Christian and Anke, each adding to the next to weave a chilling tale. And there are plenty of mysteries, superstitions, will-o’-the-wisps (spirits), and curses to go around.

Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone is a tale of what might happen when a small village is secluded, the inhabitants are superstitious and fear strangers (to the point of letting a woman and child freeze to death in an ice storm), have haunted tales that are passed down from generation to generation, and are just plain gossipy and mean spirited at times (one woman is accused of being a witch so they burn her and her children alive in the home). With the town’s history of superstition and its habit of ignoring the truths, the children are left to grow up in disturbing circumstances. Each comes face to face with some horrible circumstance, whether its incest, physical and verbal abuse, murder, or horrible mutilation and subsequent shunning.

As the story progresses, it is no wonder that the characters confess to doing what they did growing up, although they don’t fully understand why they did some of the things they did. They become masters at hiding the truth and soon learn to forget like their parents did before them. The environment is that warped and all about self-preservation. They essentially become walking shells of people and nearly like the walking dead.

I enjoyed reading about the chilling lives of the children of Hemmersmoor, although at times they were quite sad. Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone illustrated that people can be far more scary, evil and disturbing than superstitions and ghouls that go bump in the night. This book is definitely not for the light hearted looking for a happy ending as there are some very disturbing things that take place. In Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone, old memories never die and are never really forgiven, even in death.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.