Monday, February 23, 2015

The Witch of Napoli Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway!

Publication Date: January 15, 2015
Palladino Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fantasy


Synopsis



Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, erotic medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra’s mysterious powers. She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know – does the “Queen of Spirits” really have supernatural powers?

Nigel Huxley is convinced she’s simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England’s Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. The Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe.

Praised by Kirkus Reviews as an “enchanting and graceful narrative” that absorbs readers from the very first page, The Witch of Napoli masterfully resurrects the bitter 19th century battle between Science and religion over the possibility of an afterlife.


What Did I Think About the Story?



My first thought when reading the above synopsis and beginning The Witch of Napoli was that this was going to be Alessandra's story, from her perspective, about her powers and the various people in her life either supporting her or trying to stand in her way. What you actually find when you begin reading the story is that this is the recollections of Tommaso Labella (the reporter mentioned in the synopsis) of the fateful events that shaped his life and brought him into Alessandra's exciting orbit. It opens in 1918 shortly after Alessandra's death and then goes back in time to 1899 and the summer that changed everything for both of them.

Tommaso is young, impetuous and ready for adventure when he first meets Alessandra, a 40-year-old, poor and uneducated medium who can not only speak to the dead but levitate inanimate objects and materialize spirits that can interact with other people. He becomes enamored by her and follows along, photographing her séances for a Naples newspaper, as various men attempt to either prove her abilities to be real or prove she is a very talented trickster and as her fame around the world continues to grow. Tommaso is an incredibly endearing character and once I got used to hearing about the events through his perspective I very much enjoyed tagging along as he traveled the continent for the first time and began to grow into the reporter and man he is destined to become.

While Alessandra isn't as fleshed out as I would have necessarily liked (her backstory, feelings and experiences are all being given to us through Tommaso so they aren't as deeply drawn as if she was telling her story) it is quite clear to me that Michael Schmicker is an expert when it comes to the paranormal. Every single time I stepped into the room with Tommaso to witness the séances I was completely absorbed in what was happening and transfixed by the descriptions of not only the paranormal aspects shown but the detailed ways in which the investigators sought to catch Alessandra cheating and the various ways one could fake the paranormal activity being seen. I found these portions of the novel to be absolutely fascinating and at times terrifying, especially whenever the spirit of Savonarola made an appearance! The arrogant nonbeliever Huxley is another rather unsettling character as he will do anything to ruin Alessandra and anyone connected to her. We don't really get to learn exactly why he is this way but just hearing about how he plotted and manipulated situations to discredit her was enough to give me a chill when he popped back onto the scene.

Something else I found interesting was the tidbits of political and social commentary interspersed throughout the story, giving a  nice backdrop that showed the wide belief in the paranormal still existing in Europe during this time as well as the shift towards skepticism and proof men of science were exacting against these beliefs. Not knowing very much about Italy or its beliefs during this time I enjoyed the inclusion of this information to give me some background against how the characters reacted and responded to the world around them.

While not what I initially expected, The Witch of Napoli was nevertheless a very enjoyable read.  Even with not getting to hear Alessandra's story from Alessandra she was still a very intriguing character to say the least and it was easy to see how she could enchant most of the men around her. She makes a few questionable choices throughout the novel but this, for me, just served to make her seem more human. I am definitely excited to read more about séances and the paranormal and applaud Michael Schmicker for presenting a story wholly original and unlike anything I have read before.


What Did I Think About the Cover?  



While I can't say it reminds me of any specific part of the story I actually like it. It  makes me think of something hidden or mysterious and that definitely represents the overall feel of The Witch of Napoli for me.


My Rating: 3.5/5.0


 
Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Witch of Napoli in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to continue below for more information about the author, the book, the rest of the blog tour and how to win a copy of your very own!
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Michael Schmicker is an investigative journalist and nationally-known writer on the paranormal. He’s been a featured guest on national broadcast radio talk shows, including twice on Coast to Coast AM (560 stations in North America, with 3 million weekly listeners). He also shares his investigations through popular paranormal webcasts including Skeptiko, hosted by Alex Tsakiris; Speaking of Strange with Joshua Warren; the X-Zone, with Rob McConnell (Canada); and he even
spent an hour chatting with spoon-bending celebrity Uri Geller on his program Parascience and Beyond (England). He is the co-author of The Gift, ESP: The Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People (St. Martin’s Press). The Witch of Napoli is his debut novel. Michael began his writing career as a crime reporter for a suburban Dow-Jones newspaper in Connecticut, and worked as a freelance reporter in Southeast Asia for three years. He has also worked as a stringer for Forbes magazine, and Op-Ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal Asia. His interest in investigating the paranormal began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand where he first encountered a non-Western culture which readily accepts the reality of ghosts and spirits, reincarnation, psychics, mediums, divination,and other persistently reported phenomena unexplainable by current Science. He lives and writes in Honolulu, Hawaii, on a mountaintop overlooking Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Connect with Michael Schmicker on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Praise for The Witch of Napoli



“Impressive…an enchanting, graceful narrative that absorbs readers from the first page.” -Kirkus Reviews



Giveaway!

 
To win a Paperback copy of The Witch of Napoli please fill out the form HERE.
 
 
Please note that the mandatory entry requires you to leave a comment below. If you do not leave a comment and then enter your name and email on the form you will not be entered. All other entries are optional.
 
I will pick a winner on March 2nd and email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before I have to pick another winner.
 
You must be 18 or older to enter.


Giveaway is open to US, UK and AUS residents.
 
Only one entry per household.

All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
 
 
Good luck!
 
 
 

The Witch of Napoli Blog Tour Schedule

 

Monday, February 16

Spotlight & Giveaway at
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 17

Review at
Book Babe

Wednesday, February 18

Review at
100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, February 19

Review & Giveaway at
A Dream Within a Dream
Interview at Books and Benches

Saturday, February 21

Spotlight at
Flashlight Commentary

Sunday, February 22

Review at
Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, February 23

Review & Giveaway at
A Literary Vacation
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, February 24

Guest Post & Giveaway at
Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Wednesday, February 25

Review at
Book Nerd

Friday, February 27

Spotlight at
Let Them Read Books

Saturday, February 28

Spotlight at
I Heart Reading

Monday, March 2

Review at
A Book Drunkard
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession

Tuesday, March 3

Review at
Unshelfish

Wednesday, March 4

Review at
Carpe Librum

Thursday, March 5

Interview at
Carpe Librum

Friday, March 6

Review & Giveaway at
The True Book Addict

Monday, March 9

Review at
Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, March 10

Review at
CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, March 11

Spotlight at
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, March 12

Review at
Dianne Ascroft Blog

Tuesday, March 17

Review at
With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, March 18

Guest Post at
Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, March 19

Review at
Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, March 20

Review & Giveaway at
Broken Teepee

 
 
 
 
 


13 comments:

  1. What a great-sounding historical. I grew up amongst a lot of Italian immigrants so I know how superstitious some of the older generation can be and these stories are just the sort of tales we used to hear. Thanks for the chance to win this book.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Carl! That must have been fascinating, growing up listening to all of the old tales of superstition....fascinating but slightly scary perhaps!

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  2. I find it very interesting to read about historical events, especially in other countries. This book is now on my TBR list!

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  3. It does sound like an intriguing story. You hit on a point I was wondering as I read the synopsis--the fact that at that time, people still tended to believe in some of that spirit filled talk, that skepticism was probably on the heels of the turn of the century.

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    1. Yes, it made for a really interesting juxtaposition between those that firmly believed in the supernatural regardless of what anyone said and those that were skeptical of everything, regardless of what they saw with their own eyes. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. This plot is rife with intriguing possibilities; it involve the supernatural, charismatic personalities, powerful women. Stories surrounding these topics implicate deep and incredibly complex areas of human psychology. They inspire great fear, strongly compel human interest, and raise (disturbingly, for many people) unresolveable doubts and questions. I can't wait to see what this author does with all this...stuff. I think that the perspective of a man who has an outsider status as the framing lens for the plot is a great (and perhaps the best possible) choice for exploring some of the aforementioned stuff in nuanced depth. Thanks for your insight and this giveaway chance, Colleen. Cheers, Kara S

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    1. You said that perfectly, Kara! I have a feeling you will love it! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I'm looking forward to reading this. Michael is a new Author for me. It sounds like a really intriguing story. Thank you for being part of the tour and the giveaway opportunity.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Thank you so much, Carol, for stopping by!

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  6. I've read about this book on another blog recently and have added to my to-read list. I am interested in this story about the medium and the detective and am curious how it ends.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Bonnie! It definitely keeps your interest peeked with the give and take between Alessandra and her skeptics. If you read it I hope you enjoy it!

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  7. Okay everyone! The winner of a copy of The Witch of Napoli is.....Carol L!!! Carol I will be emailing you shortly for your mailing address and you will have 48 hours to get back to me before I have to pick another winner.

    Everyone else I have some exciting giveaways coming up so stay tuned!!

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