Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria belong to one of 13 witch families of Palermo, families whose true identities float waaaayyyy under the radar to avoid historical spates of witch-killing. In their case, their family owns a very old and popular restaurant called Sea & Vine, where they are expected to pitch in. Vittoria goes missing. Emilia finds her murdered in the local monastery with her heart cut out. Seems something is afoot, as other witches are being found in similar circumstances. Emilia determines to find out what happened to her sister and why, and proceeds to use witchcraft to help. She summons a demon who, you might not be surprised to learn, is a gorgeous hunk of a thing who belongs on the cover of a lurid bodice-buster novel and who has exquisite taste in fine clothing. All hell then pretty much literally breaks loose.
The author has developed a rather intricate mythology of witches, demons, hell, and spells. She plainly has spent a lot of time constructing the universe in her mind. Reading the story is somewhat like watching the Iron Man movies of today, or maybe the Thor movies – serious stuff happens and threatens to happen, but jokey, flippant moments and scenes serve to undermine the suspense and drama.
There are very few instances of coarse language. There is a number of highly suggestive scenes, but no explicit sex. There is a fair amount of violence, sometimes rendered graphically.
I am not someone to get bothered about fantasy worlds of witchcraft and spells and such. I’m all for putting Harry Potter books on library shelves. All the same, I would not add this book to a school collection.
The real drag to this book is that it does not “end.” I took one for the team and read all 369 pages of this story, only to find I would have to invest who-knows-how-much-more time in an (as-yet-unwritten) sequel to find out what happened. I’ll pass on that.