- ASIN: B0928WPHMH
- Publisher: Quire Books; 1st edition (May 18, 2021)
- Publication date: May 18, 2021
- Language: English
- Print length: 410 pages
- Genre: Historical Italian Fiction
The BookViral Review:
Thematically rich, absorbing, compelling, and emotionally penetrating, The Poison Keeper finds Swift recreating the particulars of time, space and social divide in early 17th century Naples.
It’s a finely constructed Historical Fiction that avoids any sense of stuffiness without slipping into cliché territory, as Swift skillfully navigates the line between respecting the story’s historical bones and illuminating the modernity of its proto-feminist perspective.
As you would expect her cast is bound by their canonical character types, but there’s a superb ensemble at work here. These led by the initially coltish but increasingly luminous Giulia Tofana whilst supporting characters like Bruno, Fabio, Agnese, Isabetta and the Duke de Verdi add ribaldry, intelligence and cruelty to burn as ambition and the hunger for retribution swirl and merge in a perfect storm.
There’s a certain sense of scale that’s inevitable in novels like The Poison Keeper and on this level, it’s easy to embrace Swift’s historically creative fiction as she brings Giulia Tofana to life. Shadowed by the fascinating and tragic backstory of her mother and pitted against the cruel and oppressive de Verdi brothers in their relentless quests for wealth and power, Swift brings Giulia into sharp focus as a living, breathing human being with flaws, foibles, passions, intelligence and warm affections.
It’s through her that Swift reminds us things are ‘not always as black and white as they seem’ and asks us to consider the different reasons we might sometimes find ourselves walking the fine line between right and wrong — driven by self-preservation, fear or revenge — to better understand its corrosive effects. This, leaving her readers to feel fully imbued in the bizarre and challenging life of early 17th-century Naples where women turned to murder because they had no other options.
Beautifully written, sophisticated and emotionally charged The Poison Keeper is superbly entertaining and unreservedly recommended to discerning fans of historical fiction.