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Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  2,088 Ratings  ·  455 Reviews
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 f ...more
ebook, 198 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Penguin Books (first published February 21st 2011)
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this book was an easy near-five stars for me.

it opens with a funeral scene in rural germany - three men and a woman attend the burial of a woman; a childhood friend. there is an awkward conversation, sprinkled with resentment and innuendo. at the close of the prologue, the woman triumphantly pisses on the grave.

everyone's got grudges...

what follows is a series of short stories, alternating between the perspectives of all five characters, as they dispassionately recount the horrific (to the reade
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oct 24, 2012 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Hey, quick, who am I?

"Four stars! Four stars! Hey, this book: four stars! That book: four stars! A very merry four stars to me! To who? To you! Last Sunday's Walking Dead episode? The dessert menu at my apartment on Thanksgiving? This cup of coffee in front of me? Four stars, four stars, four stars!"

Yeah, we've all lamented the star situation before and maybe wish we'd never started using them to begin with, but I must applaud something about this really likeable book: Guess what? I "really lik
Dec 09, 2012 brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if one of the ironies of the human condition is that we race through childhood unaware only to spend a lifetime trying to get it all back, the avid reader enjoys a parallel irony in that we burrow deeper and deeper into analysis and critical thinking only, really, to try and more fully recapture the childlike sense of being lost in a story. (i'm generalizing, but go with me on this…) impossible to shut down the critical mechanism, though: you can't unring a bell. & once you ring it, never ag ...more
Oct 23, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, horror, true-grit
Even though this takes place in Germany I'm sticking it my 'true-grit' (aka fucked up white trash) shelf. I guess America doesn't have a monopoly on twisted Appalachia type folks, although there is an element of old-world charm here that is generally missing from my dentally impaired and radially excelled countrymen and women.

The book opens in the modern day. A guy returns to his hometown after years away to find it being overrun by yuppie types, but with some of his old friends still making up
Joaquin Phoenix was brilliant in the role of Freddie Quell in the motion picture 'The Master.' I'm not recommending the film or saying I liked it in any way, shape or form, but I can appreciate great acting when I see it. Aside from Phoenix, I thought the film was lacking -- it had no arc -- it was disturbing and uncomfortable in the beginning, middle and end, but otherwise didn't really go anywhere.

I had a similar experience with this freaky little novel. There was this sort of pervasive Creep
Bark's Book Nonsense
Your House is On Fire, Your Children All Gone caught my eye with its title and fittingly creepy cover. But often a cover deceives me. This one delivers on the creep factor and is a quietly dark, infinitely disturbing book. Each chapter is told by one of five friends as they’re coming of age in an isolated, superstitious small town, in each chapter they either do something horribly disturbing or find out an equally disturbing secret about an adult in their life. Each story builds on the dread and ...more
It begins with some old, old friends reuniting for the funeral of a childhood pal. Then one of them literally SPITS (and worse!) on the grave! What gives? They were the best of friends when they were kids.

Then, we meet them as kids, growing up in a nasty, gossipy village that is ruled by superstition and fear. There are plenty of dark secrets to be kept and shared. Adults are mean to other adults and to children. Children, in turn, are cruel to EVERYONE. This is an unpleasant, yet mesmerizing, r
Nov 09, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is compared to Stephen King's "Children of the Corn," but I cannot see any relation. This story isn't creepy, and if supernatural things are happening, I missed them completely. It's not just the children in this village in Germany that do bad things - it's everyone. Adults to children, children to children, children to adults, adults to babies, and adults to adults. It's just people doing crappy things to each other, but as the reader, I didn't even care. I felt zero connection with the ch ...more
Oct 26, 2012 Melanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up for the RIP VI Challenge , thinking it would be a creepy, chilling read for this time of year. It was that...actually, it was more than that -- I found it quite disturbing and it left me feeling faintly queasy. ......

For me personally, this was a disturbing read that I couldn't find much purpose in. There is no denouement, really, except for the return of the four characters, now adults, to the village, which seems to have become a nice, touristy small town in Germany. Only they
Oct 05, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, read-in-2014
The short version:

The longer version:

Between the title and the creepy child on the cover of this book, I'd usually say NOPE. Because if you've been following me for a while now, you know that for as much as I enjoy horror, I steer clear of anything bad happening to kids or animals. I don't know if it's a product of age, having had a kid, or just tiring of the frequency with which the genre goes to those things for a cheap emotional reaction... or all three? Whatever. It's not what I enjoy. Also,
Feb 16, 2013 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fiction
I really, really wanted to like this book because I read some positive reviews from sources I trust, but I really, really didn't. So many things about it just didn't work for me at all. It's a series of stories narrated by four friends who grew up in a small German village where various atrocities have occurred, many of them at their own hands. The book is being marketed as a Shirley Jackson, Stephen King's "Children of the Corn," and X-Files read-alike, but I think that's a stretch. It's basica ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Short but strange and spooky little story, it has the old-fashioned charm of mid-20th century horror, and a plot reminiscent of Tales from the Darkside or The Twilight Zone.
YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE, by Stefan Kiesbye, revolves around the small village of Hemmersmoor. It could be called a type of "coming of age" story involving five friends: Christian (our first male narrator), Alex Frick, Martin Schurholz, Anke (whose aspirations are to move far above the station in life she was born into), and Linde Janeke. However, that would be a tragic, over simplification of the book as a whole.

The village was effectively a nation unto itself. Neighbors so
Adam Floridia
There are many times that Karen's reviews end up burning me. They make books sound so great! Then, I buy the book, forgetting I'm more of a literary snoot who doesn't enjoy much contemporary fiction. I read the book quickly and generally find it "okay" at best.

This time is different. This time her review didn't steer me wrong.

I didn't love this book, but I enjoyed reading it and give it a firm 3 1/2 stars. It's a great coming-of-age tale. We get to see the five main characters deal with the nor
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Five friends reunite in the small village of Hemmersmoor, a rural town in the German countryside, many years after the bloom of youth has passed. Now old men and women, Martin, Christian, Linde, and Alex gather at Anke's grave, paying their last respects to the dead - a ceremony punctuated by Linde's hiking up her skirt and pissing on Anke's casket. Through a series of interconnected chapters, each narrated by one of the characters, Stefan Kiesbye unveils
Sep 29, 2016 Melli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story starts with a funeral attended by the elders of the village still remaining. The book tells the tale of their childhood growing up in the village and all of the tragedies that they witnesses and all of sadness. The story isn't as creepy but more like a wow what just happened as I thought. It's told in alternating voices of the children and in their perspective as things occur. Which I thought was pretty cool, definitely a quick enjoyable read.
Aug 10, 2014 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't wrap my head around this one. Incredibly uncomfortable and disturbing. While it was well written, and I enjoyed the creepy tone and culture within the town, it's told from multiple points of view, and they all felt too similar. I feel like I would need to know the author's intentions behind some of the particularly disturbing scenes to really form an opinion on this.
Can't continue reading this. Makes no sense to me at all. No rating.
Neil McCrea
Nov 09, 2012 Neil McCrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
When I was six, prior to today's hypervigilant parenting, I would walk a little over a mile to my elementary school and back every day by myself. Along my route was a vacant lot full of weeds and the foundation of a home long since burned down. I regularly made up ghost stories about that lot and spent an unreasonable amount of time dawdling there in the afternoon. One morning I discovered a dead cat in the lot. I was fascinated and studied the corpse in great detail. Of particular interest was ...more
Anna Janelle
Oct 15, 2012 Anna Janelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I were to be honest, I'd give this book a solid 3.5 stars; however, because it was much better than some other three star reads, I'm bumping it up to 4 :)


Told through a series of interlocking Twilight Zone-esque stories featuring a small village in Germany where the townspeople engage in shocking betrayals and terrible behavior, this book was haunting from start to finish. A group of friends, now grown, gathers to remember a recently deceased childhood schoolmate. This group of "friends" isn
Bridgit Barger
Aug 23, 2015 Bridgit Barger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“In that moment I left my body, and I’m not sure I ever returned.”

Recently I had the great misfortune of reading Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, and was extremely discouraged by the writing style, the atrocious characters, and the creepy romance. I am obviously in the minority: this book has an astonishing 4.4 rating on GoodReads. As of now, I don’t put too much stock in ratings. If a book’s premise sounds interesting to me, I’ll pick it up. That simple.

However, (perhaps hypocritically) I was
Mar 01, 2011 hcelvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christian, Martin, Linde und Alex treffen sich nach über 40 Jahren bei der Beerdigung von Anke, ihrer Freundin aus Kindeszeiten, in Hemmersmoor, einem norddeutschen Dorf, in dem sie aufgewachsen sind. In ihrer Kindheit erlebten sie dort schaurige Geschehnisse, Gewalttaten bis hin zum Mord, ausgelöst durch Spielereien, die in Boshaftigkeiten ausarteten, durch Aberglaube, durch die Enge und Engstirnigkeit im kleinen abgelegenen Ort, dem Eingang der Hölle?

Nicht nur das Buchcover vermittelt die pass
Jamie Rose
Oct 22, 2013 Jamie Rose rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a terrible book. I almost never give one star ratings but in this case it's one more than it truly deserves. I'm torn between demanding my money back and going to hit the person who recommended it with my copy. I read because apparently it is one of the creepiest and scariest books ever written...

This promise of a scare is nothing more than a book snob is just [i] rubbish [/i]

There are undeniably unpleasant goings on in this (East) German village - but they are not 'creepy' th
Dec 17, 2012 Roybot rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended very highly to me by a friend, and the creepy cover and her effusive praise was enough to get me on board.

The story is dominated by the flashbacks to four children living in post-WWII Germany. We follow them as they take turns describing the world of their youth and the bizarre and unpleasent circumstances that carry them through to adulthood.

There were definitely elements to this book that worked well. The first chapter after the prologue starts with a bang, and quic
Oct 02, 2012 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited to want to pick up this book and read it. I was in the mood for a good horror story. Unfortunately for me this book missed the mark. It moved very slowly and the characters were uninteresting to me. I thought the back story about each character in regards to where they came from would help with the story. It would shed light as to what prompted them to do what they did but all it showed me was the children grew up in sad families and then started getting in trouble and being t ...more
Ruth Turner
Jul 22, 2014 Ruth Turner rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror

The story begins in the present day with a small group of friends attending the funeral of another of their childhood friends in the small town of Hemmersmoor.

From there, we go back in time and the story unfolds in alternating chapters told from the different points of view of the friends.

It took me a little while to get into this. At one point, thankfully not too far into the book, I went back to the beginning and started again.

It’s well written and the prose is plain and simple, which somehow,
I know this probably wouldn't be a five star for a lot of people but right now in my life this is absolutely five stars.

When my birthday or Christmas rolls around and I ask for books from my mom she only buys me the ones I want along with a "happy" book of her choosing as well. She thinks I am too pessimistic and "those" kinds of books "only make it worse." She is so wrong. This book shows the sometimes terrific beauty found in the ugliest most terrible situations. Maybe that's only in my own h
Apr 03, 2017 Lygeri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Antonia for giving me "Your house is on fire your children are all gone"!!! Very appreciated!!
Five children are the main "heroes" of this book, which in reality is a naration of some landmark events of their childhood. The story takes place in a remote village in Germany not many years ago.. The trigger for them to remember their stories is the death and funeral of one of them because of old age. So, the children are not young any more. However, the account is going on in present tens
Oct 11, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home, Your house is on fire and your children are gone, All except one, And her name is Ann, And she hid under the baking pan. (english Nursery rhyme. c. 1744)

ok the cover, everyone has said that it was the cover that attracted them..... at first. Then it was this "Shirley Jackson meets The X-Files in this riveting novel of supernatural horror". Well sorry to disappoint, but these two elements are not central, nor is the book influenced (to a high degree) by either
Sep 30, 2012 Michele rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was billed as being a combination of Stephen King meets Shirley Jackson meets the X-Files. but it fell a bit flat for me. It starts off strong when two Very Bad Things happen that are entirely unexpected, seriously unnerving, and vaguely supernatural. Alas, although Very Bad Things continue to happen, they get progressively less creepy and more mundane as the book goes on. Which is pretty much the opposite of what one expects in a horror novel. The unease should be slowly ratcheted up and u ...more
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Nook Book Lending...: Your house is on Fire, Your children all gone 1 42 Apr 22, 2013 08:48AM  
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  • Horror Story and Other Horror Stories
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  • Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism
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  • The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque
  • In the Mean Time
  • Something Red (Something Red, #1)
  • The Small Hand and Dolly
  • Between Two Fires
  • The Broken Ones
  • The Road Through the Wall
  • Ghost Stories
  • Beyond the Door
  • The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All: Stories
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 Free University. A scholarship brought him to Buffalo, New York, in 1996. Kiesbye now lives in Portales, NM ...more
More about Stefan Kiesbye...

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