The Witch of Napoli

Michael Schmicker. Palladino, $12.99 trade paper (342p) ISBN 978-0-9909490-2-2
Schmicker bases this historical fiction on the actual figure of late-19th-century Italian spiritualist and medium Eusapia Palladino, but fails to create a truly compelling tale. Newspaperman Tomaso Labella narrates the tale of Alessandra Poverelli, a famous Neapolitan medium (and a stand-in for Palladino), with his first photo of her, taken when he is still a teen. Tomaso’s photo of Alessandra levitating a table allows her to become Naples’s own Cinderella, leaving behind “Pigotti, her thuggish manager” for professor Camillo Lombardi’s, who wants to study her; Tomaso remains her photographer and friend. Central to Camillo’s study is a tour of the Continent, so that other European men of science may test her abilities. Alessandra performs generally well, at times even summoning the spirit of Florentine friar Savonarola, but she is continually challenged by skeptical Englishman Nigel Huxley. The novel hinges on the character of Alessandra and her abilities, but she isn’t compelling enough, and the results of her tour are never really in doubt due to the triumphant obituary at the beginning of the novel. This story is only mildly diverting. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 06/08/2015
Release date: 01/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-0861-6
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