• The Poison Keeper

  • An Enthralling Historical Novel of Renaissance Italy (Italian Renaissance Series)
  • By: Deborah Swift
  • Narrated by: Diana Croft
  • Length: 12 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Naples, 1633. Aqua Tofana: One drop to heal. Three drops to kill.

Giulia Tofana longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business, but Mamma has always been secretive and refuses to tell her the hidden keys to her success. But the day Mamma is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi, Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade.

Giulia must run for her life and escapes to Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, to the home of her aunt Isabetta, a famous courtesan. But when Giulia hears that her mother has been executed and learns of the cruel manner of her death, she swears she will wreak revenge on the Duke de Verdi.

The trouble is, Naples is in the grip of Domenico, the Duke’s brother, who controls the city with the "Camorra", the mafia. Worse, her aunt Isabetta, under his thrall, insists that she should be consort to him.

Based on the legendary life of Giulia Tofana, this is a story of hidden family secrets and how vengeance can be overcome by courage and love.

"Her characters are so real they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf." (Historical Novel Society)

©2021 Deborah Swift (P)2022 Deborah Swift

What listeners say about The Poison Keeper

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Poisonously Appealing

Truly a fantastic book and narration—you will not want to put down once you start. Deserving of an Audie at the least! Multi-voiced and tightly drawn, this is true, perfect historical fiction. No gimmicks, just a well drawn story that grabs hold and for let go. I wish there were an easier way to elevate books like this to the reading public!! I’d have missed it but for hearing Swift give an excellent craft talk on description. So Glad I became curious. Hope she gets her backlist on audio ASAP.

Giuliano d’Adamo’s day is going about like any teen’s day, including a spat with her mother followed by a flirtation with a young man. Then her word is upended as a Duke’s men thunder down on them, throwing Giuliano into a struggle for survival. Each step brings her closer to calamity, as the past simply keeps coming back at her while the future threatens, too. And as she makes her way, still guarding the book of poisons her mother thrust at her, her acquaintances show their full humanity, in this Naples world where violence and poison exist for a reason.

For lovers of The Lost Apothecary, Dangerous Beauty, and The Borgias.

3 people found this helpful

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Too religious

I didn’t realize that it was based on a historical character till I finished it. It was too religious for my taste so I really had to force myself to push through.

2 people found this helpful

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A Truly Enthralling Story

The first book in the Italian Renaissance Series and my first novel by Deborah Swift was one of the best Historical Fiction stories I've read. I was mesmerized from the first Chapter to the last.

This novel has so much imagery you can't help but feel you're there. The intrigue, secrets, lies, and revenge in these pages had me saying "Just One More Chapter" until the end, which came too soon.

I'm anticipating the next book in this series. Deborah Swift is a brilliant storyteller and Diana Croft narrated this story beautifully.

2 people found this helpful

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Cool Story

i really liked the Storyline, especially with the historic background. i wished the narration would have been a little livelier, it sounded quite monotone sometimes

1 person found this helpful

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great book

great naration by dianna croft
cant wait to start the next book
the silkworm keeper.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Story

It is a good story involving the early history of organized crime.

However, I find that some of the details about unknown biological parents are very different from my own experience and feelings. my father I shall always remember as a man who loved me and brought me up, and my sperm donor as nothing more to me then a doctor who gave a squirt of DNA so that I could come into existence. no emotional connection at all there. He must have sired dozens; so far we have only located six unknown half brothers and one half sister-- none of whom share my personality or cultural traits. DNA means "Darn Naughty Ancestors", nothing more. Author Swift got that part wrong.

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A new look at the Renaissance

A spellbinding book that looks at the women of the Renaissance in a very different way. The performance had a great narrator who could separate the characters very well.

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Very interesting

Well-paced story. Fascinating historical aspect. Several anachronistic phrases or thoughts slip in, but just ignore those and enjoy it. A few negative issues made it a less perfect read. It was difficult to bond strongly to the characters; however, the story itself was interesting enough to overcome that. Giuliana isn’t introduced In a way that would make me like her, but a connection with her early on would have helped me have more interest in her in the second part. One thing I wish is that there had been occasional redeeming moments with some of the characters. There is so much that goes wrong, and there are so few glimpses of kindness or redeeming qualities, that the unrelentingness made the experience fatiguing and narrow. So many had evil intent, and even the Claudia character added too much overload.

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An overall good listen

I really enjoyed this book. narration was believable and gave life to each character. The plot was a little predictable but kept me entertained.

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Italian historical fiction!

If you enjoy historical fiction this is a great choice! Narration brings the book to life!! Loved it!

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  • The Curator
  • 01-23-22

Entertaining

I hadn’t realised this was a book based on historical figures until I got to the author’s note at the end. It was a bit frustrating at that point not to hear about which characters were real and which invented etc but during the reading of the book it mattered not at all.
In general it’s a pretty pacy story of a one-woman murder industry knocking off unwanted, inconvenient, elderly or violent men with poison. Apparently the whole of Naples seems to know what she does for a living but thankfully the authorities are rather slow to catch on (or it would be a short book). The main characters are fine but never quite had me totally engaged but even so, it was entertaining and rattled along at a good pace.