Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Three Fires, by Denise Mina {ends 8/15}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley 

This is how Savonarola knows that he has lost Florence: not one of the apartments overlooking the Piazza della Signoria has a candle flickering inside. The apartments seem deserted but they’re not. There’s nowhere to go any more: the inns are closed and the gambling dens are all shut. People must be home. In one room a figure is shifting, watching, looking straight at him. It’s a man, he thinks, a man with his arms crossed. At this same event last year all the windows were bright; a lot of them were open for people to watch the march come in for the big bonfire. Last year was better.

Savonarola is losing the city.

Of course we’ll never know what was really in Savonarola’s mind, but this story makes some pretty good guesses.

Official synopsis: 
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Three Fires, by Denise Mina {ends 8/15}
Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican friar living in Florence at the end of the fifteenth century. An anti-corruption campaigner, his hellfire preaching increasingly spilled over into tirades against all luxuries that tempted his followers toward sin. These sermons led to the infamous "Bonfire of the Vanities”—a series of fires lit throughout Florence for the incineration of everything from books, extravagant clothing, playing cards, musical instruments, make-up, and mirrors to paintings, tapestries, and sculptures.

Railing against the vice and avarice of the ruling Medici family, he was instrumental in their removal from power—and for a short time became the puritanical leader of the city. After turning his attention to corruption within the Catholic Church, he was first excommunicated and then executed by a combination of hanging and being burned at the stake.

Just as in Rizzio—her latest novel with Pegasus Crime—Denise Mina brings a modern take to this fascinating historical story, drawing parallels between the febrile atmosphere of medieval Florence and the culture wars of the present day. In dramatizing the life and last days of Savonarola, she explores the downfall of the original architect of cancel culture and, in the process, explores the never-ending tensions between wealth, inequality, and freedom of speech that so dominate our modern world.

This enlightening and imaginative re-telling of the late fifteenth century really brought a not necessarily popular or well-known time in history to life. From a childhood that may have led to Savonarola’s passion for sharing his truth, to his actual practice preaching to get his message out, this book made the struggles in Savonarola’s life feel understandable and relevant.

While not a long book, the journeys, sermons, and confrontations of Savonarola as a force within the Church and outside of it were fascinating. No chapter or incident was too long to bore a reader, but instead just gave a hint at the surface of the characters’ lives that left the reader’s imagination open for more.

The book was quite enjoyable and earned 4 out of 5 stars while also teaching a lot about a time and place with which this reader was previously unfamiliar. Those who enjoy historical fiction, especially with a religious angle, would like this book.

{click here to purchase on Amazon}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who is married with two children. She loves the theater, her flower garden, and watching her kids enjoy their lives. Check out other book reviews and their activities on her blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Three Fires!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, August 15th, at 11:59pm ET, and winner will be contacted via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Three Fires, by Denise Mina


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