Despite working in an office full of books, I should be relatively safe if a fire breaks out at work because they burn very badly. It’s something to do with the tightly packed pages preventing oxygen circulating and slowing the reaction. So now you know.
Manuel Rivas’ Books Burn Badly tracks the slow, smouldering events which follow a fascist book burning in Galica in 1936, and the knock on effects that they have upon those who witnessed them, transforming a generation from hopeful to broken overnight. A boxer called Hercules, a fascist judge who collects bibles and a superstitious gravedigger; each is affected by the events in their own way.
Though there was some unity to the story in the end and I enjoyed the folkloric elements of the novel, it was a bit too loose and meandering for my tastes. There was a wonderful bunch of characters with their stories intertwined, but I felt there was insufficient resolution. This is a matter of taste, it was beautifully written, but I felt that the characters deserved three books which explored their lives in more detail than one bulky novel which only touched on elements of these.
Gorgeous cover though!