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Maddalena and the Dark: Book summary and reviews of Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine

Maddalena and the Dark

A Novel

by Julia Fine

Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine X
Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine
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  • Published Jun 2023
    304 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

For fans of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Mexican Gothic, a novel set in 18th-century Venice at a prestigious music school, about two girls drawn together by a dangerous wager

Venice, 1717. Fifteen-year-old Luisa has only wanted one thing: to be the best at violin. As a student at the Ospedale della Pietà, she hopes to join the highest ranks of its illustrious girls' orchestra and become a protégé of the great Antonio Vivaldi. Luisa is good at violin, but she is not the best. She has peers, but she does not have friends. Until Maddalena.

After a scandal threatens her noble family's reputation, Maddalena is sent to the Pietà to preserve her marriage prospects. When she meets Luisa, Maddalena feels the stirrings of a friendship unlike anything she has known. But Maddalena has a secret: she has hatched a dangerous plot to rescue her future her own way. When she invites Luisa into her plans, promising to make her dreams come true, Luisa doesn't hesitate. But every wager has its price, and as the girls are drawn into the decadent world outside the Pietà's walls, they must decide what it is they truly want—and what they will do to pay for it.

Lush and heady, swirling with music and magic, Maddalena and the Dark is a Venetian fairytale about the friendship between two girls and the boundless desire that will set them free, if it doesn't consume them first.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Fine beguiles with this decadent tale of desire set in 18th-century Venice…A masterly exploration of the shifting power dynamics of the protagonists' relationship, particularly as Maddalena's devotion to Luisa curdles into obsession. With the alluring Venice backdrop, this will frighten and captivate in equal measure." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Enchanting…Moody and sumptuous, the novel has many delights in store for lovers of beautiful sentences and lush scene building. The relationship between Luisa and Maddalena is seductive, exciting, and suspenseful." ―Kirkus Reviews

"A gothic tale of music, desire, and romantic friendship between women…Fine's writing is rich and transportive, much language coming from musical and Italian lexicons." —Booklist

"The latest novel from [Fine] has everything I like: a dangerous friendship between two teenage girls, a compelling setting (an 18th century Venetian music school!), an undercurrent from magic, and a blurb from Kelly Link, who calls this 'a sumptuous feast of a novel, rich and strange and heady.' I think I will just indulge." ―LitHub

"A feast of a book―rich in setting, steeped in desire, and haunted by a growing obsession." ―Bustle

"Maddalena and the Dark is chocolate laced with poison. To read it is to fall under an enchantment: 18th-century Venice, desire and obsession, music and ambition, lagoons and monsters. Julia Fine is a writer of ferocious talent and originality, and with her third novel she has crafted a sweeping, dark fairy tale about the violent hearts of teenage girls. I loved it from the first sentence to the astonishing final lines." ―Katie Gutierrez, national bestselling author of More Than You'll Ever Know

"I have fallen in love with Maddalena and the Dark. The writing is exquisite, evoking a world that feels so alive it is itself a character, capable of seduction and menace. This wild, ambitious read speaks to the heart of what it means to be a woman and an artist; it left me breathless. I will shelve it between Mexican Gothic and The Passion and read it again and again." ―Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Mother May I

"A sumptuous feast of a novel, rich and strange and heady. Julia Fine is an extraordinary writer." —Kelly Link, national bestselling author of Get In Trouble

This information about Maddalena and the Dark was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Julia Fine

Julia Fine is the author of What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award. Her second novel, The Upstairs House, is forthcoming from Harper in 2021. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children.

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