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I had this brilliant idea to read a bunch of scary stories this month. You know, in honor of Halloween and all. Well, that and I had a read a review about Your House Is on Fire…, ordered it on the spot, and it arrived just the other day. So there was that bit of luck.

The problem is, now that I’ve finished this spectacularly creepy tale, I’ve remembered why I don’t do this more often.

I’m going to have to sleep with the lights on tonight.

The novel is broken into chapters that alternate point-of-view between four pre-adolescent childhood friends so reads more as a collection of short interconnected stories. Just as you’re gaped-mouth at the horror of one story, the camera swoops up to take in the entire town and plonks down into another child’s nightmarish day. In real life. Because the ENTIRE TOWN is haunted. By the end of the novel, your heart is thumping out of your chest in anticipation of what the bloody hell is going to go wrong next, and you’re yelling at the wee ones to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD get away from the garden maze!

I took every precaution: I read only during the daytime, I read a different book entirely at night. Still. STILL I am afeard for my sanity for when the sun goes down and I’m going to be in charge all by myself of my house. In the dark. For the entire night.

When an author can do this with just 208 pages, you know he’s the master of psychological precision, of masking creepy children-of-the-corn evil with normalcy, of knowing how to juggle a few dozen story threads without us noticing (except maybe in the beginning, because that was pretty slow) that there are any other threads than the one we’re following…at least until we trip over one we didn’t see there in the dark. And it was piano wire. And our foot falls off. Okay, not really – Kiesbye stays away from the gore, which makes his achievement all the more delicious because it’s smart and sharp and seemingly effortless the way he avoids the easy kill.

So just go read it already. Because if I talk about it any more, I won’t be able to sleep even with the lights on. In real life.