How Fires End

A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.
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Book Description:

A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.

After soldiers vacate the Sicilian hillside town of Melilli in the summer of 1943, the locals celebrate, giving thanks to their patron saint, Sebastian. Amid the revelry, all it takes is one fateful moment for the destiny of nine-year-old Salvatore Vassallo to change forever. When his twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded mortar shell, Salvatore’s faith is destroyed. As the family unravels, and fear ignites among their neighbors that the Vassallo name is cursed, one tragedy begets another.

Desperate to escape this haunting legacy, Salvatore accepts the help of an Italian soldier with fascist ties who ushers him and his sister, Nella, into a new beginning in America. In Middletown, Connecticut, in the immigrant neighborhood known as Little Melilli, these three struggle to build new lives for themselves. But a dangerous choice to keep their secrets hidden erupts in violence decades later. When Salvatore loses his inquisitive American-born son, David, they all learn too late the price sons pay for their fathers’ wars.

Written with elegiac prose, How Fires End delves into the secret wars of men; the sins they cannot bury; and a life lived in fear of who will reveal them, who will survive them, and who will forgive them.

Rafala’s well-honed instinct for figurative language and keen ear for the voice of his characters brings both 1980’s Connecticut and post-WWII Sicily to life in vivid detail, immersing the reader in a rich, well-lived-in world that seems to extend far beyond what’s on the page. Teenage David and his Sicilian-immigrant father, Salvatore, are written with a fierce, unyielding empathy. Giving both characters a complexity that allows the novel to find beautiful and unexpected moments of meaning and weight. Like the very best of ghost stories, How Fires End, finds the disquiet and dread vibrating beneath each moment, allowing the tragic circumstances at the core of its story to amplify each lovingly rendered passage. How Fires End examines the stories we tell about ourselves, the stories told about us by those who love us, and the stories told about us by our communities. And how we struggle against that cacophony of stories to try and be the people that we want to be.

-- Scott Larner

Marco Rafala (Author)

Marco Rafalà is a first-generation Sicilian American novelist, musician, and writer for award-winning tabletop role-playing games. He earned his MFA in Fiction from The New School and is a cocurator of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series in New York City. Born in Middletown, Connecticut, he now lives in Brooklyn, New York. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review and LitHub. How Fires End is his debut novel.

A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.

Dear Reader, author’s recently published book “How Fires End” is now available on leading bookstores, get your copy now and help the author by writing a review of the book.
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