Thursday, January 13, 2011

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)

Summary: In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness.

Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul.

Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.

Our review: Murder. Secrets. Revenge. The year, 1492. The setting, Renaissance Italy. The protagonist, female. Her position, Head Poisoner. 

From Poison's killer opening line, "The Spaniard died in agony," this story was intriguing. Poole's historical YA paints a vivid and fascinating portrait of a daughter determined to exact revenge on the person responsible for her beloved father's murder. Her journey for justice and truth is fascinating. Francesca Giordano kills her competition, enabling her to take over her father's position of "poisoner" to the Borgia family and the very powerful Cardinal Borgia. This job brings with it political unrest, sexism and danger. Some would anything to keep their secrets hidden and Francesca is thrown into the fray and has to fend for herself. 

I liked Francesca's voice and found her strength and conviction realistic and convincing. Poole's descriptions were rich and I felt enlightened by her admirable mix of history with fiction. A bit slow moving in parts as the story was set up, the other sections drew me in and kept me reading. I have seen this described as a YA historical but I think adults will also enjoy Francesca's journey and Poole's absorbing writing.

Rating: ++++

Cover comment: I love it. The blending of the scrolling art on the left with the model and her mysterious gaze at the camera really captured the essence of this book.

Book source: Crazy Book Tours & swapped

1 comment:

  1. That is a great opening sentence! That alone would probably make me walk up to the counter with this book! Thanks for featuring it.