‘Powerful saga,’ says Midwest Book Review

I love a good saga. 
Thorn Birds, The Godfather, and Pillars of the Earth are some of my favorite kinds of books, and the sort of book I dreamed to create.
So, to have the reviewers at the much-respected Midwest Book Review call Celestina’s Burnings a “powerful saga” gives me the warm fuzzies inside – just like my beloved sagas.

Here is the full review, as featured in the January edition of the MBR:

Set in Italy in 1491, Celestina’s Burnings begins at the end of Celestina DiCapria’s period of mourning for her murdered father, when Florence rises up against witchcraft: an event which prompts her to join the religious forces to find the witch who destroyed her father.

Common laborer and would-be artist Rinaldo SanGiorgio, smitten with Celestina, joins her newfound cause. When the religious mob attacks the art he loves, he finds himself reviewing his place in the world, along with his loyalties.

As love, affairs, suggestions, and danger swirl around Celestina and Rinaldo, affecting their feelings towards each other and the future course of their lives, readers receive a powerful historical novel of the literal burning of two worlds and the fiery passions of romance alike.

Celestina’s Burnings excels in a sense of time, place, and purpose. Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen injects her characters with powerful social and religious sentiments reflective of their times, introduces conundrums that challenges each character’s place in the world, and inserts political and social strife into their personal lives.

In the course of this story and its unfolding events, readers should be prepared for some graphic (yet historically accurate) descriptions of torture and inhumanity. These are tastefully presented and merge nicely with stories of infidelity, rage, salvation, and the burning heat of a friar’s sacrifice.

Pedersen’s ability to bring the times and their issues to graphic life crafts a story that is passionate, involving, and hard to put down. Where other historical novels would trade emotion for factual representation, Pedersen achieves a smooth balance between the two. Celestina’s Burnings thus holds a rare ability to attract the non-historical novel reader in addition to those who may come into the story with a priority familiarity with and interest in 1400s Italy.

Celestina’s Burnings is a solidly engrossing, compelling read based on the passions, purposes, and politics of not only the times, but two individuals caught up in a social swirl of events beyond their experience. It’s a story that will involve, delight, and engross readers in Renaissance Italian culture, politics, and art with its powerful saga of personal and political enlightenment and entwined destinies and family ties.

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