Fantastical Horror Rooted in Real History: We Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado

Release Date: May 30, 2023
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Horror, Young Adult


Bronwyn is only supposed to be in rural Hillwoods for a year. Her grandmother is in hospice, and her father needs to get her affairs in order. And they’re all meant to make some final memories together.

Except Bronwyn is miserable. Her grandmother is dying, everyone is standoffish, and she can’t even go swimming. All she hears are warnings about going in the water, despite a gorgeous lake. And a pool at the abandoned rec center. And another in the high school basement.

Anais tries her hardest to protect Bronwyn from the shadows of Hillwoods. She follows her own rituals to avoid any unnecessary attention–and if she can just get Bronwyn to stop asking questions, she can protect her too. The less Bronwyn pays attention to Hillwoods, the less Hillwoods will pay attention to Bronwyn. She doesn’t get that the lore is, well, truth. History. Pain. The living aren’t the only ones who seek retribution when they’re wronged. But when Bronwyn does more exploring than she should, they are both in for danger they couldn’t expect.

My Thoughts

This same thread also appears in We Don’t Swim Here. Both novels are fantastical horror rooted in real history. Burn Down, Rise Up is bound up in the history of the Bronx and Tirado’s own experiences of learning about that history. We Don’t Swim Here pulls from Black folks’ complicated relationship with swimming, white people’s often violent reactions toward desegregating pools, and the way white supremacy can rewrite a racist event until it becomes thought of as a harmless urban legend or forgotten moment that bears no connection to today…

Read the rest of my review at

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