Forthcoming on October 8, 2019
On the day she turns ninety-nine, Mariuccia Umbellino calls for a priest so that she might finally confess to someone the secrets she has been living with since a band of men appeared at her family’s farm in the wild Sibylline Mountains seventy five years earlier with orders from the Pope to destroy the nearby shrine of the Oracle of Cumae and to thereby end forever the practice of the Old Religion that had persisted in that region since Roman times.
Set in early nineteenth century Italy, Mariuccia’s adventures take her from the remote mountain village of Montemonaco and the secret recesses of the Grotto of the Fates, an extensive limestone cavern guarded by lamiae and home to Sibylla, the Oracle of Apollo. . . . to the bustling and modern manufacturing town of Casteldurante in the heart of the Italian Marches. A daring rescue is undertaken in the dark of night, things are blow up, love spells are miscast, then recast, unwanted advances are made and repulsed, a downtrodden housekeeper poisons her cruel mistress, a mummy is discovered buried beneath a chapel floor, and the mysterious fate of a jettatore – a person born with the Evil Eye – is finally revealed.
The Oracle of Cumae is a work of darkly comic speculative fiction, fast-paced, deeply rooted in mythology and folklore and enlivened by a cast of memorable characters, not the least of whom is its unusual teenage heroine.
I would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council during the writing of The Oracle of Cumae.
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”