Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Saffron Crocus: A YA Mystery in 17th Century Venice

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Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
eBook; 306p

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance

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Winner of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.

02_The Saffron CrocusVenice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.

Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?

Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita's past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?

Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.


I have to confess that I love books set in Venice.   It's such a unique city with fascinating traditions and it played such a pivotal role in European history.    The first book that I read which took place in Venice is one of Anne Rice's best novels, Cry To Heaven.  Since The Saffron Crocus shares some of the same elements as that wonderful Rice novel, I felt as if I would be revisiting its world.   I received The Saffron Crocus free via this blog tour in return for an honest review.

This was a fast read that was mostly enjoyable.   I especially liked the heroine's voice teacher and mentor, Margherita.  I was fascinated to learn from McMahan's historical note that she was based on a historical personage.  Further research led me to discover that she was one of the first women to become an opera singer.

 I would have liked to have seen more Ladino during the scenes in the Jewish ghetto.  Ladino is a creole of Spanish and Hebrew spoken by the Jews of Spain, Portugal and Italy.  I'd heard of it before, but had never seen any example of Ladino before I read this book.

I lost my appetite for The Saffron Crocus as a result of a very predictable plot event that also had me wondering whether several of the characters were truly TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) because they should also have seen what was coming.  Oh, but the result was super-dramatic.  Look,  I love dramatic plotlines, but not a crisis that was manufactured because the characters blundered into it without thinking.  After that, the resolution seemed contrived.  I wished that I could have pushed a re-set button, so I could go back to the point where the novel was fun and I still respected the protagonists.


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03_Alison McMahan AuthorAbout the Author

Alison McMahan chased footage for her documentaries through jungles in Honduras and Cambodia, favelas in Brazil and racetracks in the U.S. She brings the same sense of adventure to her award-winning books of historical mystery and romantic adventure for teens and adults. Her latest publication is The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young. Murder, Mystery & Music in 17th Century Venice.

She loves hearing from readers!

Author Links

Webpage for The Saffron Crocus

The Saffron Crocus Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 13
Book Blast at Genre Queen

Thursday, April 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, April 17
Interview at Mythical Books

Monday, April 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 21
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Wednesday, April 22
Guest Post at History From a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, April 28
Book Blast at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, April 29
Guest Post & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, May 5
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 7
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 8
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, May 9
Book Blast at Romantic Historical Lovers

Tuesday, May 12
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, May 14
Review at Book Babe
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 25
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, May 27
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, May 28
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, June 1
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, June 2
Guest Post at The Maiden's Court

Friday, June 5
Spotlight & Giveaway at Jorie Loves a Story

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