The novel tells the story of the Federicos, a turbulent and unstable family made up of the parents and three children: Julia, Daniel and Telmo. The family moved to Casa del Alto in the south of Spain due to murky matters involving the father, a man with unstable habits and character who, due to his addiction to poker, has built up debts with a man of dark appearance and even darker schemes who everyone calls Tinieblas. Daniel tries to find out what has happened and what is going on. Julia has been away from home for a while and, when she comes back, she finds that her parents have just gone away. Both she and them have been and are out working to pay the debt for a bet that their father lost playing poker with Tinieblas. Little by little, Daniel will unravel what is going on.
During that time Daniel, albeit reluctantly, becomes a member of the villages gang of boys. He will then learn that his sister Julia makes a living telling tales at night in filthy and sordid dens, which is why she always comes home so late and barely takes care of her brothers. Everything works out in the end: their parents soon return home and they all move north to try to be a happy family.
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