Maddalena and the Dark

Posted June 7, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 7 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Maddalena and the DarkMaddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine
Narrator: Sophie Roberts
Published by Flatiron Books, Macmillan Audio on June 13, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Historical / General
Length: 11 hours 3 minutes
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

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

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

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.

I really enjoyed this novel. This is the first time that I have read any of Julia Fine’s work and I am so happy that I decided to give this book a try. I like books that involve music so the fact that Maddalena and Luisa cross paths at a music school was a big draw for me. The story is beautifully written and full of magic, music, friendship, and maybe something more. The story takes a few surprising twists that kept things very interesting.

The book is set in 1717 Venice so even though Maddalena and Luisa are only 15 the world is different and they are at the age that most girls marry. There has been some scandal in Maddalena’s family so they have sent her to the school since her marriage prospects don’t seem to be working out. Luisa has been raised at the school as an orphan like most of the other students. The story is told through both Maddalena’s and Luisa’s points of view which was a very effective way to tell this story. They share a bit of magic and develop a strong bond that stretches beyond the walls of the school. I really enjoyed seeing both of these young ladies grow individually and appreciated the changes to their bond of friendship as their circumstances change.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that Sophie Roberts did a remarkable job with the narration. The Italian words in the story flowed nicely and added to the story’s atmosphere. (I don’t speak Italian so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the pronunciation but it sounded good to me!) I thought that she did a great job of bringing both of these characters to life and adding just the right amount of emotion to her narration. I do believe that her narration only added to my enjoyment of this story.

I would recommend this book to others. This book took a couple of twists that were completely unexpected and made the book impossible to put down. I will definitely be looking for more of this author’s work in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Flatiron Books and Macmillan Audio.

7 responses to “Maddalena and the Dark

  1. This sounds so good and what a fascinating time period. I can’t imagine having to make real decisions at 15. I was basically still a lump.