Book review: The Book of Fire

The Book of Fire

Christy Lefteri

Manilla Press

Review: Karen Watkins

Fans of The Beekeeper of Aleppo and lovers of beautifully crafted novels will thoroughly enjoy Lefteri’s latest release, on the shelves in August.

Set on a small Greek Island, it’s the story about a devastating fire and its impact on a family.

Living in a city surrounded by a nature reserve, or in a township, we have seen the effect that fire can have on a community. All it takes is a spark, a simple thoughtless act. What happens when everything you know and worked for is snatched from you? How will you ever recover?

The main characters of this story are Irini, a musician, artist husband Tasso and their daughter, Chara, whose name means joy.

They live in a house surrounded by trees. The ground is dry. The forest goes up in flames in a single day, leaving them displaced. They are not alone. Homes are destroyed. There is much death, of trees, wildlife and people; the island’s natural beauty wiped out.

In the wake of the fire, Chara bears deep scars across her back and arms. Tasso is frozen in trauma with no will to exist. And Irini is crippled by guilt at her part in the fate of the man who started the fire.

Will this family survive and overcome the hurdles they face, both physically and mentally?

It is a sad story told with an uplifting sense of expectation, documented by Chara in drawings of her beloved forest, made from charcoal she finds in the ashes.

Descriptions of the food in Maria’s Kafeneon also give a sense of place − olives, meze and halloumi.

The story develops very slowly. The pace could have been faster but overall it is a very good book and definitely recommended. Thanks to Penguin Random House for an early copy of this book to review.