February 19, 2015

The Witch of Napoli Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Witch of Napoli! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book - and don't forget to enter to win your own copy! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.


02_The Witch of Napoli CoverThe Witch of Napoli
Author: Michael Schmicker
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publication Date: January 15, 2015
Publisher: Palladino Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback


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.

Praise for The Witch of Napoli:

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

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The Witch of Napoli is a mesmerizing historical fantasy that follows the life of Alessandra Poverelli after she supposedly raises a table during a Seance in Italy. When the story hits the newspapers, people from around the world are skeptical of her "powers" - and some even come to Europe to investigate for themselves. One such person is the wealthy yet skeptical psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi, who looks into Alessandra's talents for himself. He can no longer deny her abilities after she raises the ghost of his dead mother right before his eyes. Risking everything - including his money and reputation - Lombardi takes Alessandra on a tour of the Continent so all the skeptics - scientists and academics mostly - can see firsthand what she can do. Lombardi hopes to rewrite science completely with his newfound prize and the money from the tour allows Alessandra to escape her abusive husband. Not everyone is convinced of Alessandra's gifts - the Vatican is secretly digging up her past and trying to discredit her, while an aloof detective plans a trap that will expose her as the fraud she really is. People across the globe are demanding the truth about Alessandra - does she truly have supernatural powers or is she just another fraud? 

I'm a huge fan of any type of book that deals with witches and witchcraft - fiction or nonfiction. When I heard of this book and read the description - I was immediately intrigued by the mysterious Alessandra and her story, and I knew I had to read it. I don't normally read a lot of historical fiction, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I started the book. Suffice it to say that it was everything I could have hoped for and then some. It went above and beyond any expectation I may have had. This is one of those situations where you read a book and love it so much and for so many different reasons, but it's almost impossible to express why you feel this way; let alone attempt to write a review. I know I can never do it the justice it deserves, but I'll try my best. I can honestly say that this book was enchanting and had me under its spell from the first lines. The story was incredibly fascinating and complex - learning about Alessandra, her "powers" and her life in general with tangent plot lines of critics who try to discredit her or trap her into showing that she's a fraud, and even her relationship with the abusive Pigotti. All of these smaller story lines intertwined to form a beautifully deep novel with several levels of narrative and concepts. 

Everything in the book - from the characters to the setting and just the regular narrative within the pages - was exceptionally well done. I wholeheartedly believe that this was because of the writing style of the author. The story was told from a first person point of view - not one that you would expect, like Alessandra or her manager, but from the man who first photographed her spiritual powers when he was a teen. From his relationship with Alessandra and all the people in her life and career, we are transported into the heart of the story alongside him. Because of the point of view used, the reader can truly understand the inner workings of the narrator - his thoughts, fears, dreams, memories, etc. - and by the end of the book we feel as if we were there as well and have personally experienced it ourselves. I love when authors use this point of view because it allows the reader to really empathize and identify with the narrator on a much deeper scale than they would normally be able to. Along with the conversational tone of the writing and the benefit of being inside the mind of someone who experienced everything discussed in the story, I found that the author used tons of intricately detailed descriptions and vivid imagery to submerge the reader even further into the world he created. It's because of all of these aspects that I was mesmerized by the narrative from the first few words all the way to the very end. There's no use going into more detail about the story and what happens or the characters - I feel that these are pretty self explanatory from the description of the book alone, and what really matters with this novel is the writing. I honestly can't praise the author enough for the beautiful way the book was written or the intoxicating narrative he created for us to disappear into. All I can say is that I can't recommend this book highly enough! It has a bit of something for everyone - action, adventure, historical fiction, fantasy, supernatural/paranormal, realistic fiction, romance; I could go on and on. This novel contains some of the best writing I've ever encountered, and combined with the story and other aspects of the book - it's one that I'll never forget and will definitely be re-reading in the future. Read this book - NOW. You won't regret it.

One of the Most Mesmerizing Novels I've Ever Read!
03_Michael Schmicker AuthorMichael 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
 Giveaway: (1) Paperback copy of The Witch of Napoli

Must be 18+ to enter / Open to US, UK, AUS only

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 

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