Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Mascherari by Laura Rahme


In this late medieval tale of mystery and the supernatural, Laura Rahme evokes a Venice long forgotten. From the dark sottoporticos of the Arsenal, to the wealthy mansions of Castello, and deep within the secret passages of the Ducal Palace, The Mascherari is an occult tale rich with history. Venezia, 1422. Doge Tommaso Mocenigo is on his death bed. An evil has come to Venice. An evil that will set the course for the future of La Serenissima. The following day, the Venice Republic's security council, the most feared Council of Ten, summons the Florentine inquisitor, Antonio da Parma, to hold an inquest on a most baffling case. During a sumptuous banquet, four of the merchants, including Giacomo Contarini, have met a chilling death. Enter the dashing Esteban dell Valle, a formidable Dardi-trained swordmaster of Nubian origins. Esteban grieves his stolen inheritance and the death of his Catalan adopted father. He survives, mysteriously, through the influence of high ranking patricians. He never removes his mask and has sworn to reclaim his wealth. Noble Catarina Contarini has a sad tale to tell. Her husband's death weighs upon her and so too, do the scandalous accusations that have been made against him. In her grief, she confides in Antonio da Parma and reveals her shocking secrets. But Catarina's darkest secret concerns a witch; a Napoletana named Magdalena. Despite himself, Antonio da Parma is drawn ever closer to the magnetic Magdalena. He unveils the truth behind the merchants' murders and comes face to face with a machination of monstrous evil. Through this fascinating Magdalena, an enchanter of admirals and merchants alike, Antonio begins to realize that his true quest is one he could never have imagined.


The Mascherari is an epistolary gothic-occult mystery novel set in 15thcentury Venice, The story unfolds through the written testimony, journals, and letters of the main characters. This clever style allows the story to unfold, one exciting turn after another. This is a murder mystery with a luscious plot and a touch of the occult. Venice’s fame for mask making and disguises adds a magic touch to the grandiose vibrancy of the fascinating city known as La Serenissima. Page by page, as each character adds a new revelation to the story, a sinister truth is revealed. Author Laura Rahme is a talented writer who knows how to keep the suspense rising while unveiling a story so rich with atmosphere, decadence, political climate, and societal practices of this wealthy city. And boy what a climax! It is one that kept me flipping the pages so fast to devour every detail that culminated in great satisfaction. This is one author to keep an eye on, not only for her talent in writing style, but in her ability as a wonderful storyteller.

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