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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

Serenissima by Orazia Mortimer 2023 SFINCs Book Review

SFINCS 2023 Championship Banner
SFINCS 2023 Championship Banner

This review is part of the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”. This is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.).

To see more information on my team Behind the Musings check out this post!

Serenissima by Orazia Mortimer book cover
Serenissima by Orazia Mortimer

Blurb for Serenissima

Would you risk knowing the future?Venice, 1470. The city is filled with rumours of a Turkish fleet sailing the Mediterranean. Isabetta Zorzi, who walks the fine line of being a respectable courtesan, worries about the for-now distant threat. That threat seems even more distant to her twin, Catarina, living a quiet scholar's life in a convent. But a chance encounter with a sailor changes that. They now possess a magic glass gem that Catarina can use to see the future. It's a future no one wants to a future where Venice's colonies fall to Ottoman armies, while the Venetian fleet does nothing. The women can't tell anyone what they know, though, because they would be denounce for witchcraft. They need a man, but the only one who knows about the glass gem is a runaway slave from an enemy city.Can a courtesan, a nun, and a (former?) slave save Venice?


Book Review for Serenissima

When Isabetta comes into possession of a blue glass gem she quickly dismisses its worth. Yet when the owner insists it holds value, she sends it to her sister Catarina to study. When Catarina discovers the gem provides her visions of a Turkish invasion, the two sisters try to intervene in what the future holds.

As the story unfolds, readers are slowly drawn into the encroaching Turkish threat. Not only will the characters talk about the possibility of an invasion, but Catarina will catch glimpses of the future. Each new vision escalates the situation, eliciting in the reader the same amount of apprehension as the sister’s display on the page.

At times the narrative can take a few sentences to pick up on the viewpoint readers are following, as the story switches between characters. There will be noticeable formatting to clue the reader into a possible viewpoint change, but with the first-person usage, it can be a little difficult. That being said, each character's personality and intentions were well developed. My favorite was Isabetta. She is a strong-willed woman. She’s quick to think on her feet and will let no man stand in her way when she sets her mind to a task. Her mother is a wonderful role model as she loves her daughters and is proud of them regardless of their social status or paths in life.

Serenissima is a novella focusing on characters with little influence, trying to do what they can to save their people. Reading this story shows how even some of the smallest actions can leave a lasting impact. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy politics, and historical fiction with a hint of fantasy.

To Purchase: Amazon

All or part of this book review may be used in marketing, I only ask that you reference Behind the Pages if you choose to do so.

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