Monday, December 01, 2014

Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone--Stefan Kiesbye

If there's one thing I've learned as a librarian, it's that if you can display an item, someone will get interested in it.

This is how I wound up with this book, an impulse borrow as I was checking myself at the library*

It has a fantastic cover design, featuring a girl modeled after the original "Village of the Damned" look with some rustic dead animals hanging in the background. There's an additional nice touch if you turn the book about 30 degrees to the side--the message "IF YOU TELL ON ME YOU'RE DEAD" appears on the cover. Super scary. It promises a tale about a small, isolated town and four friends who grew up there and compares it to both the Brothers Grimm and Stephen King.

The problem with this book is that Kiesbye had one great vignette that exposes the depravity of the town, a village cooking contest that puts various people on edge and ends with the murder of one contestant and her family by the whole town once the social order of who wins the contest is disrupted. Plus they have possibly just eaten human flesh and the murdered were newcomers anyway. After that, it's just going through the motions of murder, witchcraft, incest, rape and maiming until he caps it off with a mention that, hey, there was a concentration camp down the road. When the Nazis show up, they are not even frozen Nazi zombies And like in all horror films, the characters are thinly drawn and second to the shock factor.

There's a reason "The Lottery" is a classic. It's a short story, the horror builds, and once revealed it ends.

At just under 200 pages, this book was great for commute reading--I finished it on one day. But overall, it was just an irritating waste of time.

*Yes, in Arizona you check out your own books at a machine. We did not have that back in Ohio--has it finally become a thing there?