Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

I am a huge fan of Shirley Jackson so the description of this book called out to me and I had to have it.
The stories are quite dark, but not your usual blood and guts kind of horror. Most of the stories begin with ordinary sounding circumstances which lends them a taste of realism that you don't often get in today's horror. The fear builds slowly and subtly. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite, as they were all quite good. I was definitely impressed with the title story which was saved for last. As well as "The Inn"  where two friends sneak into a hotel room that has been host to a violent past. "Adela's House" was a chilling tale of a one armed girl and the night she and her friends would have been better off to avoid an abandoned house. "An Invocation of the Big Eared Runt" is an excellent tale of a happily married man who works the "murder tour" taking tourists along the paths of infamous murders. The more obsessed he becomes with a child murderer the less happy he is with his wife and new baby....
"Spiderweb" by contrast had the main characters in an unhappy marriage. Juan Martin is a know it all who knows nothing, not even that his wife has had just about enough of his complaining and uselessness.
A young woman who has suffered with depression  has some horrific suspicions about what is going on in "The Neighbor's Courtyard."
If you enjoy dark tales of the macabre and malevolent this is the book for you.
4 out of 5 stars from me

I received a complimentary copy for review

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