Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Poison Keeper by Deborah Swift (Review and Giveaway!)

If you like historical fiction with strong heroins, a feminist viewpoint and a fascinating topic, The Poison Keeper with its serious theme (and without offensive content) is a great summer read.

Book Details:

Title: The Poison Keeper by Deborah Swift
Category: Adult Fiction, 406 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Quire Books
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Content rating: PG-13+ M (spousal abuse, prostitution, drug use and murder) No sex or bad language.

Book Description:

Naples 1633

Aqua Tofana – One drop to heal. Three drops to kill.

Giulia Tofana longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business, but Mamma has always been secretive and refuses to tell Giulia the hidden keys to her success. When Mamma is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi, Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade.

Giulia must run for her life, and escapes to Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, to the home of her Aunt Isabetta, a famous courtesan. But when Giulia hears that her mother has been executed, and the cruel manner of her death, she swears she will wreak revenge on the Duke de Verdi.

The trouble is, Naples is in the grip of Domenico, the Duke’s brother, who controls the city with the ‘Camorra’, the mafia. Worse, her Aunt Isabetta, under Domenico’s thrall, insists that she should be consort to him – the brother of the man she has vowed to kill.

Based on the legendary life of Italian poisoner Giulia Tofana, this is a story of hidden family secrets, and how even the darkest desires can be vanquished by courage and love.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The Poison Keeper is a novel set in Renaissance Italy and based on the historical person named Giulia Tofana, renowned for having helped hundreds of desperate and abused women murder their husbands through her famous poison called Aqua Tofana. It was a fascinating read.

At its core, this is a story about the plight of women during an era where women had few rights. Giulia is a sheltered 23-year old innocent woman when her life is thrown upside down and she become a fugitive. To survive, she finally resorts to a livelihood she never expected, one that came because of difficult circumstances.

Giulia is a compelling character. She becomes stronger as the story evolves and she is faced with various situations. Renaissance Italy comes alive under Swift's deft penmanship and the plot moves along at a quick pace. Although I suspected an inevitable end, the author surprised me with a few twists, and an inspiring ending. I was unaware that this novel is part of a series, with the second book titled The Silkworm Keeper being released at the end of June and a third on the way. I look forward to reading them.

I also enjoyed the author's historical notes at the end, where she gives us more details about the real Giulia Tofana and on what facts she based her novel.

If you like historical fiction with strong heroins, a feminist viewpoint and a fascinating topic, The Poison Keeper with its serious theme (and without offensive content) is a great summer read.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter,
and Goodreads.

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 4, 2021

The Poison Keeper

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  1. Thank you for this lovely review of The Poison Keeper.

    1. My pleasure! I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

  2. So glad you enjoyed The Poison Keeper! Thank you for hosting the tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


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