The Witch of Napoli- Renaissance Italy, feels and paranormal activity

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An absolute delight, a captivating historical fiction set in fin-de-siècle Italy, I must admit being pleasantly surprised by the maturity in writing, pace and character chemistry. Nothing was too long, nothing felt too edgy, everything was so vivid yet somehow succinct. And these words are from someone who is mostly in the antagonistic side when it comes to spirits, occults and other ghostly thingys.

I received a promo audiobook copy in exchange for a honest review and it pretty much became a part of my daily routine, thanks to the wonderful narrator and his Italian accented accords. Quite sure my mind would have fallen short in capturing the essence and intensity from transduced retinal signals. And it hit me right in the feels by end, left me wanting for more. Story follows around the autobiographical account of an established Italian newspaper editor about his early life struggle and rise to success, all which were dependent on his acquaintance with a spirit medium, a middle aged lady from Naples. Novel starts in 18th century Italy, where according to the narrator ‘devil’ was pretty much a real thing and witches were burned. Alessandra Poverelli (if I am spelling correctly), our protagonist claim to have the ability to communicate with spirits, specifically with that of an old monk (with a rather funny name- Seven Aureola, more or less, according to my malleus, incus and stapes) , and accountable telekinesis followed these medium works, like movements of inanimate objects and stuff. So narrator, then a young late teenage boy, gets to capture a table levitation act, the photograph of which gets him and Alexandra great fame. Then onwards it’s a journey involving neo scientists and church skeptics eager to expose fraudulent mediums, realists asking scientific explanation, people eager to believe, science vs spiritualism fights and 19th century road trips.

I totally adored the way author developed the personality of title character, peeling parts by parts, leaving a pinch of doubt, never explaining the whole background, even till the last chapters. Alexandra had a really sad and complex childhood and life, yet there was this positive aura around her character always. Also author never let the relationship between the leads go astray, sweet romantic interest to strong friendship, writer kept proper balance. If this ever gets a big screen adaptation, Schmicker’s beautiful, seductive Alessandra is one potential Oscar candidate.

It was a little spooky at times, and had to leave my headphones aside at night, maybe once or twice, still collectively it never went disturbing. I was able to visualize the whole story from my little exposure to then Italy with Ezio and Da Vinci, May god bless your servers dear Ubisoft. So read along, get completely absorbed in past, research on history and maybe, try to levitate tables 🙂

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This is the actual photograph of Eusapia Palladino levitating table, the one I believe inspired the book. She was a controversial figure of her time, Italian spiritualist physical medium according to wikipedia.

You can get a copy of book here, http://amzn.to/2a3UTN2

Shiver Bureau : Welcome to London

Thanks to the author for sharing with me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Bit of Constantine, bit of Gene from Life on Mars, bit of 10th Doctor‘s hair n suit, bit of FMA style alchemy and loads of paranormal demons.
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This was a really refreshing, mad, fun book with stylized sleek artwork and funny comic dialogues; though I might complain about the inking now and then. Shiver Bureau is a paranormal detective mystery set in an alternative Victorian steampunk -ish London and ticks a lot of muddled crazy stuff. Loved the depiction of London through words as well as sketches, very neat and widely panned.
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This Welcome to London story arc reminded me of that Christmas Doctor Who episode, the one with Snowmen, thanks to the grand invasion plan. So about the plot,

 

A young Inspector arrives at London on his new appointment with Shiver Bureau, gets stuck with unconventional colleagues and fights monsters in a widely connected missing children case all over London. It is more fun than it sounds, there were situations that made me laugh; if only I could screenshot the premise for you. Story might seem to be going in familiar terrains with detective work, action, monsters and mystery, still it’s surprising at times. I really hope they don’t go Blue Exorcist on Pickle.

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And it was awesome to find the first drafts included at the back side of story, showing the transition in story line as well as artwork. Gave me a really good perspective from the writer’s and artist’s side. I must say Pickle and Todd were more John and Dave from John dies at the end than Sherlock and Watson.

Looking forward to further installments and a re-inked future edition, because colours 

and get more here http://shiverbureau.com/