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Spoilers ahead.

One line review: I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, I just read.

This was one such book that was impossible to put down. The book had five main characters and each of them described the ongoings of the story from their point of view. In the beginning it was difficult to comprehend how the five unique personalities are going to be related with each other but as the plot thickens, it all starts to intervene and make sense.

  1. Minguillo Fasan- The male antagonist. He is born to a rich family in Venice during 1780s. From his childhood itself, he has been evil. Surprisingly he didn’t have a backstory explaining why he was evil. Even as he was breast fed by his mother, he would bite hard until he could feel blood on his tongue. Clearly, he was just plain evil. He kills his elder sister at the age of 4, by mixing some kind of poison with wine. At the age of 12, he finds out about his newborn sister, a threat to his inheritance and spends most part of his life trying to make her life miserable. He starts to collect books bound by human skin. Also, he is the only character to ever speak with the reader directly and that gave me the chills.
  2. Marcella Fasan- The female protagonist. She is Minguillo’s younger sister. She is too good to be true. Always smiling, never complaining about the wrongs done to her, creating caricatures of everyone around her to please them. She is loved by all the servants in her home as her parents fail to love her, both in fear of Minguillo and due to her faulty bladder. She had a sensitive bladder and couldn’t control the urge to urinate as normal adults do. That was obviously termed as a humiliation in the 18th century for a woman of her virtue. At the age of 9, her brother shoots at her knee, making her forever crippled. She is later sent (by her brother) to a rehabilitation centre for mad people, an asylum where she gets declared as sane in a couple of years and then gets sent (again, by her brother) to a nunnery. She falls in love with a young doctor who used to come to check her conditions during her time in Venice.
  3. Doctor Santo Aldobrandini- A young orphan who is obsessed with the diseases related to the skin. He grows up to be a doctor and marries Marcella towards the end.
  4. Sor Loreta- A crazy nun. She is obsessed with uniting with God and has no sense of   reality. Tries to kill Marcella and Santo.
  5. Gianni delle Boccole- Servant of the Fasan family. He was dedicated to Marcella’s father, Fernando Fasan and later extends his services and care towards Marcella, trying to help her out from the evils conducted by her brother. Truly, a soothing character amidst all the madness.

Towards the end of the book, I found myself in a nail-biting situation. It was just all too tense. The most exciting part being Marcella’s escape from the convent, I was left to wonder whether or not it will end up in a happy ending as I still had some forty odd pages left. You know authors, they can create a plot twist with just one sentence and turn your entire world upside down.

There were two scenes that I really liked. First, Marcella and Santo’s first kiss. As Santo put it, he wasn’t sure if their first kiss was going to be their last. It happened just before Marcella is sent to the convent and become a nun for life. At that point it felt like the two of them deserved so much more. The second scene was when Marcella meets her step brother named Fernando (same name as that of her father). Marcella was in the church choir and in front of her sits Fernando with whom she meets for the first time. It was heart breaking as both of them tear up with just a glance at each other, each being aware of the tortures of Minguillo over the other.

Minguillo’s dialogue, “This is going to be uncomfortable.” is the one line which will forever freeze me up.

P.S.: I have been trying to write this post since last night. It has actually been 24 hours now. There are some things going on that I didn’t wish for. Hopefully, my books can save me out of this miserable world and it’s pain.

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