Todo arde

Alfaguara, 2020 | Everything Burns


“We must celebrate the publication of Nuria Barrios new novel. (...) Expectations were higher than usual and they have not failed. Todo arde tells a moving descent into hell. Barrios keeps the alternance between the epic story and the naturalistic representation of this eerie world with excellent narrative pace. The description of the slum and its environment is impeccable. The variety of characters is amazing, as well as the rich verbal construction that defines them. The intrigue rises from a starting prosaism to the alleged tragic outcome.” – Ana Rodríguez Fischer, Babelia (El País)

 “Nuria Barrios’ writing shines brightly even when she portrays the darkest part of human nature.” – Inés Martín Rodrigo, ABC Cultural

 “The tension of a thriller, the mystery of a noir, the information of a report and the breath of a subtle poetry collection.” – Alicia Giménez-Bartlett

“Tenderly, but with a hint of something reminiscent of Goya’s Black Paintings, it traces out the torments of drugs and the way they suffocate a modern-day family… The language, the description of the characters in the midst of their routines, give the plot the illusion of reality. Still, it is the fiction that pushes the novel beyond the concrete so that it can speak of all of us and confront us with the question of who we are.” Santos Sanz Villanueva, El Cultural

 “Hard and tender at the same time, realistic and mythical, it drags us towards the darkest worlds but also towards the luminosity of affections.” – Clara Obligado

“Really well-written, and, above all, deeply honest. The balance she has achieved between reality and idealism proves her creative maturity. (…) She knows how to build intrigue with brilliance (…). She is a mature, solid writer, and she is always amazing us because she is equally brilliant in very different styles” José María Pozuelo Yvancos, ABC Cultural.

“A thrilling novel that exudes poetry. A harsh story full of hope and life.” – Jesús Marchamalo, RNE

“Harsh and yet luminous literature. Very intense. Highly contemporary.” – Jesús Trueba, La buena vida.


Todo arde is an original and disturbing retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth in which the love that motivates the journey into hell is between siblings, rather than lovers.

Lena has been out of touch for weeks until her little brother Lolo tracks her down one Friday evening in August, just as the sun is setting. Determined to convince her to return home with him,  Lolo accompanies Lena to the shanty town where she buys drugs. So begins the journey they will make together over the course of that long night in the slums, an odyssey marked by trials and dangers.

Lolo and Lena become separated in the labyrinth of shacks. They continue their descent into hell alone, encountering on the way a number of the individuals who live there; Esma, Noe, Mikis, The Louse, and a blind drunkard who is able to see in the gloom like a gypsy Tiresias. Only the fires burning outside some of the huts light up the darkness. On this journey, peril lurks in every shadow and among the people who roam like restless spirits, crushed by greed, desire and deception.

The discovery of a valuable Pit Bull puppy puts Lolo and Lena at the centre of a viscious struggle between two gangs fighting for control of the town. No one comes out of hell unscathed. The love between the brother and sister, the rare bond that can survive against all the odds, is their only chance of saving each other before the new day dawns.

Todo arde is the tale of a quest, a teenager’s journey into the unknown to rescue his older sister from her addiction to crack and heroin. This is the story of two lost souls who need one other, a story of light and darkness. It is only at the very end that the reader finds out who saves who.