Advance Galley Reviews
Penguin First ARC.
3 of 5 ?s.
This collection of short stories are surreal, not straight horror but also something more. Some feel like an urban myth, like Bloody Mary, seen out of the corner of your eye but not there when you look. But mostly the powerless trying to get some control of their lives.
I started reading this last night and felt tired so I tried to take a nap. I usually don't have an issue but I panicked after closing my eyes for only a minute. These stories really freaked me out.
I haven't read a collection of short stories before and this was a tough start. Enriquez' writing style is quite unique - a little bit conversational, vivid bordering on grotesque and increasingly darker for each character. I don't claim to be afraid of the dark but this was a new experience in reading for me. This was a constant barrage of inexplicable horrors. While I respect the viewpoint of women struggling and fighting for their truths to be heard a love some magical realism, I wasn't prepared for this particular brand of ghosts. I didn't dislike this collection but I'm walking away from it feeling haunted in ways I can't shake off. Maybe that was the point..
I can't help but feel like this collection isn't being marketed correctly which does it a disservice. It doesn't hit macabre or gothic, and to see the word horror being thrown around to describe these stories is just perplexing.
That being said, I do think there's some fine writing here. There were times when I found myself thinking that a story was going to be forgettable only to have something happen or something said that packed a punch. But then there were also many times I felt let down by a story by not getting much of a pay off at the end (either through character or plot).
In the end, I was most interested in the view of poor Argentina (and the split between those who are well off and those who are not), but for it to be most impactful I would've liked to either be more firmly in genre or more firmly rooted in character driven stories. Most stories in this collection felt stuck in between the two in a way that felt lacking.
Haunting and dark set of short stories with the real and fictional aspects coming together. After reading, some of these stories remained lingering long after leaving you wondering how things turned out. Overall was a really good read.
A haunting set of short stories told throughout a South American setting with huge influences from the supernatural and harshness of reality. Some of the stories leave you without a solid ending but I like when you can sit and ponder after finishing a tale. There are also dark moments within that made me uncomfortable but overall I'm glad I read the book and appreciated the different, if not bleak, perspective.
The collection of stories presented here is quite a mixed bag. There's certainly something interesting about each. The writing is good. There is enough description to paint a vivid picture but it doesn't get bogged down by it. The characters are carefully crafted. None are much like the others. The stories all have a supernatural/horror/macabre element. There are some real gems here. My favorites are Adela's house and Dirty Kid. Adela was chilling. That being said, some were difficult to enjoy. It wasn't for a lack of trying, some just felt incomplete. Some just weren't ready, they needed more fine tuning. I can appreciate leaving a conclusion to the reader's imagination but there were stories here like The Inn, that don't develop enough before ending. You think its building up to something good and then it's over with no payoff. Unfortunately that happens more often than not.
I really enjoyed these stories. This collection is far different from what I usually read, but this genre is now a new favorite. I love scary movies but "horror" books never quite did it for me. I loved the eerie feeling of these urban legends plus the added aspect of learning about a new culture. The ambiguous endings made them stick in your mind after reading and allowed the author to achieve the creepy factor without having to go into too much blood and gore. I'm still going over all the possibilities of a few of them in my head. What really happened? 4/5 stars for Enriquez & bonus points to First to Read for stretching me out of my comfort zone.
“What do you know about what really goes on around here, mamita? You live here, but you’re from a different world.”
3 1/2 stars. ^This is exactly how this whole book feels. I recognise the world in it; I suppose, in many ways, it's the one I live in... except it also isn't. It’s the dark spaces and the secrets hidden just under the surface of the world we know.
I can definitely feel the Shirley Jackson vibe. Enríquez has written a collection of Argentinian horror stories, full of atmosphere, suspense and ofttimes the grotesque. But, like Jackson, most of these stories are characterized by their ability to feel normal at first, to portray real life and real people, but create a sense of the unnatural beneath it all. It's an unsettling undercurrent running behind the main events of each story.
The author deftly weaves painfully human characters. Whether they be narcos, drug users or transvestites, they all come to life on the page, and in the intense, scary, manic and yet somewhat familiar world of the novel.
Some of the stories are stranger than others and those were perhaps my least favourite. The ones where the author ranked up the ick factor were almost too much for me. Gory descriptions of the insides of small animals is not my cup of tea. But these were in the minority. Others captured small circles and underbellies of our own world in an extremely intense and emotive way.
For example, "The Intoxicated Years". About those friendships so close, personal and intense that it's hard to separate yourself from the other person. This story chronicles a downward spiral into drug abuse over several years in the late 80s/early 90s. Intoxicating feels a deeply appropriate word, about more than just drug abuse - equally about the intoxicating nature of the relationships within, and the heady writing itself.
Others border on more traditional horror about haunted houses and things that go bump in the night. Yet, of course, Enríquez puts her own spin on it and nothing is ever quite so simple as a haunted house. Still, passages like this will give traditional horror lovers some chills:
“The house tells us the stories. You don’t hear it?”
“Poor thing,” said Pablo. “She doesn’t hear the house’s voice.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Adela. “We’ll tell you.”
And they told me.
About the old woman, whose eyes had no pupils but who wasn’t blind.
About the old man, who burned medical books out by the empty chicken coop, in the backyard.
About the backyard, just as dry and dead as the front, full of little holes like the dens of rats.
About a faucet that never stopped dripping, because the thing that lived in the house needed water.
Frightening, dramatic, and impossible to look away from.
For those with a taste for the supernatural macabre, Enriquez has put together a snarling collection of stories rabid in their horror. It doesn't matter if you don't believe in ghosts. They are real in this book. This fictional world, revealing the influence of Lovecraft, could be run by dead gods, but Enriquez leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Her imagination dredges up the gory details of what we're afraid to say we're afraid of as we remember our sins and the light goes out.
Beautifully bleak, eerie. Not one cheery tale in the collection, these are "what lies beneath" stories, the invocation/reanimation of the disappeared in a vivid depiction of contemporary Argentina. Death saints worshipped by immigrants and poor transplants into Buenos Aires's slums, haunted houses that beckon haunted people into their labyrinthine horrors, ghosts of a brutal police training facility, witches, spiders, snakes, skulls. But they're told with a sympathetic voice in an engaging translation from the original Spanish. Stand-out stories include The Inn, Adela's House, and The Dirty Kid. I recommend this collection of short stories to anyone who enjoys a fresh take on the literature of the macabre.
A creepy, gritty, bleak collection of stories--always bordering on horror, but never resorting to tired elements (it is true that there are body parts and haunted houses, but they come together in unexpected ways, and the stories that disturbed me the most were the most realistic ones, though my favorite, "Adela's House," is a classic haunted house story). It is not a book to read after dark, or when you're the only one home. These are stories that linger..
These stories remain with you long after you finish reading them. The author is able to blend the real and surreal together into haunting tales that surprise and also challenge. The writing is well done, and the reader is able to catch a glimpse into the complex world within each story. I was hooked after the first story, "The Dirty Kid," and I immediately wanted to reread all of them after the final one, "Things We Lost in the Fire."
A wonderfully engaging collection of stories by an Argentine author. Although literary in tone, with universal themes of love, friendship and finding one's place in the world, these stories will also appeal to readers who like stories with a plot and character development. Many of the stories have ghost and supernatural elements. Some are downright creepy. It's hard to pick favorites, since I enjoyed them all. But "The Dirty Kid" and "Spiderweb" stand out. The only thing I would wish for is a mention of the translator. These stories were originally published in Spanish.
Superb collection of eerie short stories, some are frightening, bordering on horror. Domestic violence, hallucinations, ghosts, serial killers, etc. Not for the faint of heart. Wonderfully creepy. Terrific writing.
Contents: The dirty kid - The inn -The intoxicated years - Adela's house - Spider web - End of term - No flesh over our bones - The neighbor's courtyard - Under the black water - Green red orange.
I honestly did not enjoy reading this collection of short stories. Yes, most of them were pretty creepy but the stories did not make me question the world around me. It made me think that maybe this author should see a therapist? I'm sorry. Just not my style, I guess. If you are into bizarre, unkind acts of inhumanity, by all means, this is the book for you.
These stories are beautifully written and most of them are eerie as all hell. I hadn't read anything that made my hair stand on end in awhile and I forgot how enjoyable that can be. What I really liked about it was that Enriquez gave you that feeling using suspense, character, and subtlety rather than gore and cheesy scare tactics. I don't know much about Argentina beyond Borges but I felt like her writing gave you a sense of the country, especially Buenos Aires and that was great.
I received this book from the "First to Read" program. The description pulled me in - using the terms "strange, surreal, and unforgettable". I had to read it for myself and see if that was true - and it was! This is a collection of short stories that are gruesome and terrifying in nature, but not in the way that I had expected. The terror came from the themes of the paranormal and the dark side of human nature. These stories, set in Argentina, sit with you long after you finish reading them. I recommend it!
Thanks to First to Read for the preview of this book of gruesome short stories. The story lines and characters are gory, frightening and freaky. I use those descriptives in the best possible way.. The stories stay with you long after you are done reading. Often the characters real lives are worse than the crazy story developments. Good read with lots to think and talk about. ..
Disclaimer: I was offered an early version of this book via First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted to goodreads.com
Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of stories set in and around Buenos Aires. The stories range from the macabre to enlightening. Some were true ghost stories (the ones I liked best), some were pure horror, while others were ghost/horror stories that were caused by mental-illness. I enjoyed them immensely, as easy to pick up tome knowing that you will be frightened but it'll be over shortly. Each story was that way. My favorite was Dirty Kid - a story of odd personalities (transvestites, addicts, poor children, etc.) that moved all involved in different ways. The Inn was an odd story based around a hotel...the horror in this story was never revealed but it was real, right? The Intoxicated Years was a story of rebellion and adolescence and all that entails, this was my second favorite story in the book. My third favorite was The Neighbor's Courtyard because you are not sure if you're reading horror or if the horror is inside the person's head. That's what I liked most about the book...was the horror made up in the person's head or was it in reality? Was it a horror story or a story of someone's mental illness manifesting itself? A couple of the other good ones: Adela's House, Spiderweb, End of Term, and Under the Black Water. The clunkers were: No Flesh Over Our Bones, An Invocation of the Big-Eared Runt, and Things We Lost in the Fire.
Ghosts, supernatural events, disappearances and revenge. "Things Lost in the Fire" has it all. Focusing on myths and legends and set in the slums of Argentina, twelve eerie short stories aim to pull the reader into darkness and disquietude. Fans of horror will not be disappointed.
"Adela's House" was my favorite story.Adela, a spoiled, one armed girl with a stump at her shoulder, lives in an enormous chalet. Brother and sister, Pablo and Clara befriend her although neighborhood kids laugh at her. Pablo encourages Adela to explore an abandoned house nearby despite the fact that the windows are bricked up and the house appears to vibrate.
"The Inn" is a story of revenge. Our protagonist plans to scare the Inn owner after her father, a tour guide and star employee is fired from his job. Enlisting a friend's help, a wicked plan is hatched.
"The Dirty Kid" explores desperation and homelessness in poverty stricken Buenos Aires. It seemed "natural" that people were starving. The "haves" did not care about the "have- nots". Treating a hungry five year old to ice cream led to an obsession.
"Things Lost in the Fire" by Mariana Enriquez is a creepy-crawly read. In every story, the characters lives helplessly spiral to a dark epicenter and emerge change and haunted. An excellent collection of short stories.
Thank you to Penguin's First to Read program for the opportunity to read and review "Things Lost in the Fire".
A collection of 12 short stories set in Argentina. From the description of the book, I was expecting horror stories. I guess these could be classified as such, but not in the traditional sense. Some of these stories have a paranormal element to them. Others rely on the horror of humanity acting badly. The stories were all fairly short and very readable. I thought all were interesting, but I was left with an overall feeling of disappointment. I wanted more from the book. I wanted to feel invested in the characters, and I wanted to feel scared. This did not happen.
My favorite stories in the collection were Adela's House, Spiderweb and Things We Lost in the Fire.
I received a free ARC from Penguin's First to Read program.
A pretty disturbing, somewhat confusing, oddly satisfying and captivating collection of short stories about the horrors an imagination can conjure. I really couldn't stop reading even while some of the stories set my teeth and made the hairs on my neck stand up. Although not my cup of coffee, I'd definitely recommend this collection to horror and thriller enthusiasts.
From feline drug addicts converting to Satanist cults, to haunted houses and serial murderers, Mariana Enríquez's collection of short stories is as thrilling as it is anxiety inducing, the key thread that masterfully binds these varied stories together. While not all stories are explicitly horrific, they all manage to keep the reader expecting, at any moment, to find themselves confronted with the terrifying implied potential.
I loved these short stories. You travel from life to life experiencing it by being immersed into these detailed stories. Some short stores were too short. I wanted to know what else could happen. As a sociology major I lived acculturation and this book is a great tool to give you an idea of the darker side of the South American world. We often forget how the other half lives.
I had a hard time with this book, it was too dark for me, but I did appreciate the chance to read an advance reading copy of the book.
Interesting and disturbing stories. The descriptions of the poverty were compelling and heart breaking. Having spent time in Mexico, it was thought provoking to read the mystical events that permeates the culture.
Excitement does not cover what I feel when I started to read this book. Mariana Enriquez captures the essence of life and and mixes it with ink and creates amazing thoughtful sentences that perfectly conveys life of just regular, ordinary citizens in Argentina doing mundane things where they find themselves in life altering situations. These stories have the mark of a master storyteller and they resonate deep within your soul leaving you thinking about the characters long after you have finished the book. I particularly like the story with the homeless boy and the ice cream. And I absolutely love the cover. The stories reminds me of Neil Gaiman's "Fragile Things"
I received this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. It is a rather interesting set of short stories that yield information on Argentine culture. Very thought-provoking and unusual. Not your usual horror or just plain insanity stories. Enjoyed it, but not exceptional. Nice that they can be read singly and fast. Each takes your imagination in a different direction but leaves you feeling somewhat disappointed that the story seems to end before your brain tells you it should.
An enthralling collection of short stories. The common thread of paranormal activity and suspense weaves this collection together beautifully. This book had it all for me, horror, gothic styling, and engaging characters. The setting of Argentina was also done very well and I felt that it added much to the overall atmosphere of the book. I cannot wait to see what Mariana Enriquez comes out with next. Would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in short stories, horror, paranatural, and gothic literature.
Things We Lost in the Fire is a short story collection that focuses on themes and settings encompassing South America, particularly Argentina. The stories themselves explore a wide range of human emotion, from friendships and familial connections to relationships poised at the beginning of the end.
Along with these common emotional themes, the ghost stories of the area are explored. Some stories tackle real ghosts with a bit of magical realism, while other stories the ghosts are much more ambiguous, not necessarily a physical haunting but a haunting of the mind.
The only part of this collection that I found a bit confusing was that some of the stories used similar names, such as Roxana, Pablo and others that made it seem like the stories may be connected and talking about the same characters, but probably were not.
Short story lovers will want to check out this collection, which leaves the reader not knowing what's coming next with plenty of twists and surprises.
I loved this book. The way the author used not only real life dangers but supernatural dangers together really drew me in. I was surprised at how well each of the stories were delivered considering the supernatural aspect, but it really worked. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The stories I understood the most were the first and the last of the volume.
The graphic designer in the first story wonders if she is a pretender for living in the neighborhood she does while having well above the means of most in that area. A child she comes into contact with alters how she sees people on the street, and when a child is found brutally murdered and dismembered, she is rattled enough that she seriously considers leaving. The mindset of possibly being a fraud is universal, especially for women, and violence against children hits me hard, especially since I became a mother.
Women in the final story are incensed at being wronged by the men in their lives and culture who have decided to emulate a celebrity who burned his girlfriend to death. The women decide to take matters in their own hands by taking ownership of burning themselves, bringing a new kind of beauty into the culture. It's an extreme version of taking back certain words such as "bitch" that men have used to degrade women and giving them a female-determined meaning. This story has special resonance with the populist agenda spreading across the Western world.
My main issue with the collection is that I'm not sure whether concepts that are alien to me are because of it all taking place in a different culture or because of the fantastical element Enriquez introduces to her stories.
I enjoyed this collection of stories. There are a lot of superstitions and ghost stories in the culture and it was good to have these shared.
Grim, eerie, and greatly unsettling. This book unfurls the asinine and detestable sides within all of us through an engaging prose. I wasn't expecting such bizarre yet intriguing stories so I was left astounded at the turn of events. All in all, it was an interesting read.
The title resonated with me for personal reasons, so requested to read it. It was not surprising that Ms. Enríquez's stories of Argentina had nothing to do with those reasons of mine. These are at once disturbing, saddening, tragic, horrifying, haunting...impactful.
King and Koontz cannot write horror like this - though I admit my sample set of their work is limited by intent - because even the stories tending to the fantastical is painted with a brush of realism. And the prose...
I've seen poverty in Venezuela, Honduras, Belize, Jamaica, Korea, ... the U.S. , ... too many places. But other than the US, and extended family many years ago, I've not seen firsthand the direct effects, nor the other lives that the author describes. As I said...haunting.
Was not sure what to expect, but was very disturbed by this collection of short stories. A grim look of life in South America. Mariana Enrique's perspective of the lives of the downtrodden was eye opening.