Two brothers live on a remote estate with their father, cut off completely from the outside world. All they know they have learned from him, their bizarre perceptions of outside life being derived entirely from the collection of ‘dictionaries’ in the library. They have no toys, they have no friends. When their father suddenly dies, they are forced to leave their home, to face the world they hardly knew existed. Their innocence is quickly stripped away.
“I couldn’t decide what sex she was just by looking at her, whether she was a blessed virgin or a slut or et cetera, because of my lack of experience and so forth, and because dictionaries can’t explain everything, because, you have to believe me, I know my limits.”
It is impossible to describe this novel in any detail without ruining the story, which makes reviewing it somewhat difficult. To say it has ‘twists’ is to severely understate the matter. What I can say is that in The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches, Soucy has created a fascinatingly gothic fairy tale. It is dark. It is creepy. I was horrified, and yet I was touched by the characters and their tragedies.
“We had to take the universe in hand, my brother and I, for one morning just before dawn papa gave up the ghost without a by-your-leave. His mortal remains strained from an anguish of which only the bark remained, his decrees so suddenly turned to dust — everything was lying in state in the bedroom upstairs from which just the day before papa had controlled everything. We needed orders, my brother and I, so as not to crumble into little pieces, they were our mortar. Without papa we didn’t know how to do anything. On our own we could scarcely hesitate, exist, fear, suffer.”
While it is a short book, it is not an easy read. The narrator speaks in a dense, old-fashioned and just plain odd voice that will force you to slow down, consider and absorb each word. And even then, you will constantly discover that everything you thought you understood was wrong. So very wrong.
Have I confused you yet? There is no other way. I refuse to spoil the story. You will have to read it yourself. This is easily one of my favourite books off all time, but if you are new to this blog I will warn you – I love a dark story.
Paperback: 138 pages
Publisher: Anansi (Sep 1 2000)
The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches was the first novel published in Quebec to be nominated for France’s Prix Renaudot.
My friend Kat will soon have her first novel The Night Has Teeth published by a new local publisher: Fierce Ink Press. As part of the process, they are running a crowdfunding campaign to support a limited edition print run.
Are you a fan of young adult novels? Love stories about werewolves and other monsters? Have a thing for books set in Paris? If you answered yes to any of the above, you need to check out The Night Has Teeth, and consider supporting the campaign.
The Night Has Teeth by Kat Kruger
There’s a darkness that lurks in the City of Light
Seventeen-year-old Connor Lewis is chased by a memory. On his first day of kindergarten he bit a boy hard enough to scar the kid for life. Since then he’s been a social outcast at a New York private school.
Through an unexpected turn of good fortune, he lands a scholarship to study in Paris, where everything starts to look up. On the first day he befriends two military brats, and he may finally get a taste of what it’s like to be a normal teenager.
It doesn’t last.
His host family — an alluring young tattoo artist and her moody, handsome boyfriend — inadvertently introduce him to the underworld of werewolves where there are two types: the born and the bitten. Those born to it take the form of elegant wolves, while the latter are cursed to transform into the half-man, half-beast creatures of horror movies. The bitten rarely survive. Unfortunately, Connor is on the wanted list of a four hundred-year-old bitten human who’s searching for both a cure and a means of wiping out werewolves for good.
Connor’s loyalties are tested as he becomes embroiled in a conflict where werewolves, mad science and teen angst collide.
Kat Kruger is a freelance writer and social media consultant with a degree in public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University. The Night Has Teeth is her first novel and won the 34th Atlantic Writing Competition. She splits her time between Toronto and Halifax with her husband.