Where There Was Fire

John Manuel Arias

22 February 2024
288 pages


Where There Was Fire brims with ancestral spirits, omens and the forces of nature. John Manuel Arias’s extraordinary debut novel weaves a brilliant tapestry of love – lost and found again – and, ultimately, redemption.

Costa Rica, 1968.
When a lethal fire erupts at the American Fruit Company’s most lucrative banana plantation, burning all evidence of a massive cover-up, the future of Teresa Cepeda Valverde’s family is changed for ever.

Now, twenty-seven years later, Teresa and her daughter Lyra are still picking up the pieces. Lyra wants nothing to do with Teresa, but is desperate to find out what happened to her family that fateful night. Teresa, haunted by a missing husband and the bitter ghost of her mother, is unable to reconcile the past. What unfolds is a story of a mother and daughter trying to forgive what they do not yet understand, and the mystery at the heart of one family’s rupture, steeped in machismo, jealousy and greed.

A lush and ambitious debut . . . An exciting new voice with a prowess for lyricism
Every page is a masterclass in how to wrap a reader inside of a book. Simply put, this book will make you want to re-read it just to spend more time with the writing.
A haunting, operatic saga of family, history and place. Where There Was Fire beautifully braids love, lust, magic and the destructive power of man to wondrous and, at times, heartbreaking effect. Arias has created an utterly original, unforgettable tale of family that will sear a place in the reader's soul