#SixforSunday – Books Set In Italy!

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends!

We are continuing the Around the World in 80 Books theme this week on Six For Sunday by creating lists focused on books set ‘elsewhere in the world’ to the place that we live. I have a massive case of ‘pandemic wanderlust’ at the moment and due to lots of things popping up in daily life and giving me holiday flashbacks, I decided to focus my list this week on one country in particular… Italy! My friend and I travelled through Italy (quite a few years ago now) and we stopped off at lots of different places between Venice, Milan, Florence and Rome. It was the most incredible holiday and I hope I get to go back and spend more time there one day, it really is a beautiful country.
For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. March’s theme is ‘Around the World in 80 Books!’ (which sounds like some exciting travel adventure I’d definitely be signing up for!).


Books Set in Italy!

  1. The Favour by Laura Vaughan
    This is the most recent book I have read set in Italy. It came out earlier this month and features a highly complex unreliable narrator called Ada who goes on an art-history travel adventure in Italy (definitely reminded me of my own trip!). I loved Laura’s description of the palazzos, museums and cities coupled with the dark, mysterious nature of the plot. It kept me guessing all of the way to the final sentence and that ending really did pack a punch and leave my brain spinning! You can check out my spoiler-free review here!
  2. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
    The Robert Langdon books are one of my favourite guilty pleasures. I’ve read them all and secretly believe that the conspiracies 100% factual. The Angels and Demons book is probably my favourite due to the setting and the whole idea of the treasure map across Rome. When we visited Italy I just had to retrace Langdon’s footsteps and visit all of the fountains and landmarks just to put the book’s description into reality. Bernini had also been one of my focuses in one of my degree modules as well so I definitely enjoyed geeking out on that adventure. Sadly, we didn’t find the pentagram and hidden passage inside Castel Sant’Angelo but we still enjoyed checking it out… just in case!
  3. Summer at the Lake by Erica James
    After our Italian escapades, my friend practically demanded that our next holiday would be a beach one (as opposed to literally running around different cities trying to pack as much in as possible!) so we went off to Cape Verde which brought some more fantastic ‘memory-of-a-lifetime-style’ adventures. I had packed 5 books in my bag, yet I found Summer of the Lake in one of the bookshelves in the hotel lobby – being set in Italy, and having a slight case of the bookish-kleptomania, it made its way into my bag and I read it whilst sat on the divine sandy beaches. I completely fell in love with Erica’s characters and how the setting of Lake Como fitted seamlessly into the narrative. It’s definitely one of my favourites!
  4. The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
    It seems that all of my Italian books have a holiday-themed story related to them but I found The Savage Garden in an English bookshop whilst visiting my friend in Lanzarote. I bought it because of the setting of the Italian garden and the way they blurb had mentioned this secret message hidden in the garden’s architecture and design – almost like some kind of horticultural treasure hunt! I enjoyed the mythological aspect to the garden statues and the way they were incorporated to the whole mystery element of the story. It’s definitely different to any other mysteries I’ve read. You can check out a little bit more in my review here.
  5. The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen
    The Immortal City is the first book in a series called ‘The Magicians of Venice’. It’s centred around a character called Penelope who is trying to find the lost city of Atlantis but gets entangled in a murder mystery with some rather peculiar symbology. Her journey then intertwines with a group of immortal magicians (hence the title of the series) and they embark upon a quest to solve the mystery and save Venice from sinking at the same time. Obviously the setting was a winner for me but I was also completely engrossed in the storyline and the relationship between Penelope and Alexis (spoiler warning: it got a little steamy 😉). The second book in the series was released in September 2020 and it’s definitely on my TBR list! Check out my review here.
  6. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
    This was a super-cute, fun YA novel which I truly enjoyed reading. I enjoyed seeing Lina experience life in Florence (my retirement dream!) for the first time and again it threw me straight back into that amazing holiday nostalgia. It was a really sweet novel about finding yourself and the importance of family/home.

There’s my little fictional jaunt through Northern Italy. If anyone has some Italian based recommendations I’d be glad to hear them, I’m always on the lookout!

What country or destination has you flipping the auto-buy switch in your brain? What are some of your favourite countries or places that you’ve been to or are on your travel bucket-list?
As always, leave your links below to your own posts or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

5 Biblioshelf Musings about… The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

Series: The Magicians of Venice
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 19th September 2019
Publisher: BHC Press
Pages: 324
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

The Immortal City is an adult fantasy novel set in Venice from Amy Kuivalainen. The story revolves around Dr. Penelope Bryne who is on the trail of finding the Lost City of Atlantis. There are some pretty awesome magicians, stunning scenery and a captivating alchemical mystery rooted in the mythology and folklore of a lost city which has baffled generations of academics and history lovers alike. Huge thanks to BHC Press and Netgalley for providing me with a complimetary eARC in an exchange for this honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god, sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.
Dr. Penelope Bryne is ridiculed by the academic community for her quest to find the remnants of Atlantis, but when an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site, she flies to Venice determined to help the police before the killer strikes again.
Penelope has spent her entire life trying to ignore the unexplainable and magical history of Atlantis, but when she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, everything she believes will be challenged. Little does she know, Alexis has spent the last three years doing his best to sabotage Penelope’s career so doesn’t learn the truth—Atlantis had seven magicians who survived, and who he has a duty to protect.
As Alexis draws her into the darkly, seductive world of magic and history, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head if she is to find the answers she seeks.
With the new MOSE system due to come online, and Carnivale exploding around them, Penelope and Alexis will have to work together to stop the killer and prevent dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.


Viva Venezia – There were two words that made me hit that Request button as soon as I read the blurb of The Immortal City – one of them was ‘magicians’ and the other was Venice. Having been lucky enough to visit this stunning city, I’m always longing for a novel which is going to instantly transport me back to those canals and bring about the nostalgia of spending time there. Not many books have been able to do that for me, but The Immortal City definitely invoked my inner wanderlust and transported me back to that wondrous place. The detailed ways Amy describes the Magicians’ palazzo and local landmarks of Venice creates an absorbing setting which makes me want to hop right on plane and head back over to Italy. Incorporating the MOSE system (a design to try and protect Venice and the Lagoon from flooding) into the storyline adds a realistic and poignant edge to many of the topical news stories currently surrounding this famous city such as the rising water-levels and protection of the city and its heritage from mega cruise ships and mass tourism – preventing it from becoming our own modern-day Atlantis.

Lost civilisations – Atlantis has inspired countless stories and conspiracies across the generations. Don’t be duped, The Immortal City is not a quest to find the physical location of The Lost City of Atlantis – the author takes a different thread of this well-known myth by making it so that Penelope ends up finding the heart of what Atlantis left behind – the last guardians and magicians from a place lost to the sea. In my own opinion, I felt that one of the main messages here was trying to highlight that it is the stories and remnants of places which end up forming its heritage and keeping them alive, not necessarily physical places. The way the mythology of a lost civilization is tied together with a plot-line filled with forgotten languages, alchemical symbology and the one of the most amazing historical archives literature could ever imagine all makes for a fascinating plot which kept me turning page after page.

Move over Christian Grey…
…There’s a new hot guy in town and his name is Alexis Donato. This fantasy novel is definitely one for the adults out there. Alexis Donato, the dark and brooding magician at the centre of the story is HOT! The romance and relationship between him and Penelope tastefully fits into the story without bordering on seedy or distracting away from the plot and changing the tone of the novel to something more “chick-litty”. I definitely wouldn’t say no to being pulled out of a Venetian canal by him!

 The Atlantean microcosm – gimme more! – Amy Kuivalainen has created such an intriguing bunch of immortal characters. Packed with romance, banter, tension, tragedy and friendships, I quickly grew attached to each and every one of them. The events that happen towards the end of the story left me on a cliff edge waiting to see where this story goes next. Amy has created a little world of characters who I want to find out everything about. Having seen two listings for this book on Goodreads, I’m slightly unsure as to whether or not this is a standalone or part of a series as it’s listed as both but I would instantaneously be adding a sequel to my TBR should one be written… *hint hint* 🙏🙏 

More than just watery – There is a whole sunken city’s worth of different elements to like within this story that it could appeal to many readers. When I first requested it, I didn’t really know what to expect and at the start of reading it was clear this story didn’t really fit into just one bracket: there are murders and violence, but this doesn’t feel like a typical crime novel – the murders are filled with alchemical symbols and mystery which are used as plot devices throughout the story; there are magicians, but they are not your typical Dumbledores walking around in stuffy castles wearing cloaks – they are the last immortals left over from a lost civilization who are now living in our modern world; there is romance which varies from zero to all-consuming within mere pages but didn’t distract me from the main story; there is fantasy, history and magic that feels totally realistic, even though you know it’s just fiction.  Either way, there’s plenty to entertain!


Overall thoughts –
For the past few years, the books I’ve read have tended to be the ones which have been hyped about all over Goodreads or Bookstagram. I took a chance in reading The Immortal City and it was a breath of fresh air to my reading pile – this is the adult fantasy novel I have been waiting for! If you’re a fan of some of the things mentioned above, then I definitely recommend you try this book. It’s a little whirlwind of a ride and like all stories there are some points which don’t always flow or which may make you roll your eyes internally, but this book has definitely left me wanting to find out more about the captivating world of the Magicians of Venice and I’m positive I’ll be rereading it at some point in the near future. There is magic, gore, lust, danger, passion and a whole load of Italian/Atlantean goodness packed into every page. Yes this is a work of fiction, but holy gods do I wish it were real! Get me to those Palazzo archives right away!

T xx