The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches is a novel by Canadian writer Gaetan Soucy.
The story begins with two siblings living on a large estate alone with their father. When the father dies suddenly, the children know they have to take care of the burial, which means leaving the estate, which they’ve never done, and travelling to the nearby village.
The siblings are teenagers, which takes a moment for the reader to discover, as their language, behavior, and lack of knowledge of the outside world leads one to think that they’re small children. The older sibling has a skewed view of reality, believing that fictional places, as well as far away nations like Japan, lie just beyond the grove of trees surrounding the estate. It’s obvious that their father has kept them developmentally and emotionally stunted, but to what purpose?
Slowly, the truth comes to light, and the circumstances of the children’s lives on the estate is revealed. The language of the book comes from the mind of the older sibling, which at times is convoluted or confused. I can understand why this might be distracting, but this character’s interpretation of the world only enhances the ominous atmosphere.
This story is grotesque and twisted, and many of the scenes are disturbing. I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone, but would suggest this book for those who like challenging language, puzzling characters, and aren’t bothered by unsettling or gruesome descriptions. If you have ever read The Wasp Factory and survived, then you’ll be okay.
Translated from the French, the book is only about 150 pages, so it’s a quick read, and there is no time wasted and no piece of the plot that isn’t crucial. I recommend you read it in one sitting . . . if you can handle it.