Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin

Having found Samanta Schweblin’s

Mouthful of Birds to make for a relatively disturbing collection of short stories I was intrigued to read more by her. Seven Empty Houses even promised a thematic unity in its seven stories, as they all featured strange houses. Sadly I found the motif to be explored/utilized in a rather underwhelming way, and none of the stories really stood out to me. Sure, they are all characterized by that quiet ominous vibe that seems to be very much on brand for Schweblin, and I do think that some of the stories did present us with some effectively unsettling imagery, but the atmosphere was just lacking. There was an air of surreality, sure, but it ultimately lacked ‘oomph’ (they were very samey). Compared to the stories from Mouthful of Birds , the stories in this collection are kind of predictable. We have missing people, ghosts, other ‘disturbances’, a blurring of the real and the imagined…but these never add up to create a genuinely disturbing or otherwise memorable tale.

If you are a hardcore fan of Schweblin or you don’t mind rather vague short stories, maybe this collection will work for you.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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