The seven houses in these seven stories are empty. Some are devoid of love or life or furniture, of people or the truth or of memories. But in Samanta Schweblin's tense, visionary tales, something always creeps back in: a ghost, a fight, trespassers, a list of things to do before you die, a child's first encounter with a dark choice or the fallibility of parents.
Takes aim at the place we feel safest: home. Darker and more tinged with terror than her breakthrough novel, Fever Dream, this is Schweblin at her sharpest and most ferocious ... Arranged as peepholes into the private lives of others, each of these seven stories centers on a domestic dwelling, exploring how the things that constitute our most intimate spaces are relational and interconnected, and therefore in many ways the most unstable. There are absences on many levels ... Schweblin is never explicit. Any implied creepiness is a product of the reader’s own imagination ... Scarier than any fall horror movie...is the knowledge that the various assemblages of our lives are merely delicate scaffolding, liable to come crashing down at any moment.
... spectacular and strange stories ... These characters are not intentionally malevolent, yet they cause — and carry — real pain. Schweblin is particularly focused on the anguish that arises from disruptions in the natural order of things, like when a child dies before their parents ... Schweblin’s ability to upend readers’ emotional stability with a single phrase is never better displayed than in the collection’s standout, 'Breath From the Depths,' a wrenching depiction of grief and mental decline ... made more disturbing by all the things Schweblin doesn’t clarify, by the common threads that are not tied-off with pretty bows, by the unanswered questions that allow readers to relate the fates of the book’s characters to those of their own parents, spouses, friends or neighbors. The most disquieting realization of all is perhaps the fact that any of these scenarios could arrive at any moment, not only during the spookiest time of the year.
[A] sense of dreamlike menace infuses the linked fictions in Samanta Schweblin’s Seven Empty Houses, beautifully translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell ... These stories pulse with blood and lust, ego and id, as Schweblin punches above her weight ... Schweblin tells all the story but tells it slant ... Schweblin is at the forefront of emerging Latin American writers, defiant and assured, swaggering among the jungles of sex, love, and politics ... Whe tinkers with the envelope of narrative: She’s a tad more restrained, though, focused on the liminal spaces between what we know and what we desire.