The Violinist’s Apprentice
A dark journey through time.
It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch. How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.
Author Bio –
Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.
Previous books by Olga Swan:
An Englishwoman in America
From Paradis to Perdition
Pensioners in Paradis
The Mazurek Express
3rd Degree Murder
Social Media Links –
Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past
Amazon page for Isabella Mancini: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Isabella-Mancini/e/B08127KJJW/
Amazon page for Olga Swan: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B013IBD4PU
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I received a copy of this book from the author via Rachel’s Random Resources in return for an honest review.
I have to admit this book confused me. The blurb gave no mention of the age of Clementina, or that she was indeed on a school trip to Italy. As such, I was not expecting the story that unravelled. To be honest, had I known it was about a fifteen-year-old girl, I wouldn’t have chosen to read it. That said, there were elements of the story that were enchanting and captivating.
The time slip back to the 17th Century gave way to some gorgeous descriptions of Italy at that time, and Clementina’s confusion and comparisons to her own life were endearing and often funny. The relationship between Tina and Antonio Stradivari developed nicely, despite their different life experience, and had she stayed it would no doubt have led to a romance. I almost wanted her to stay there, the atmosphere of those times was so vividly brought to life. At the same time, I was keen for her to return home to tell her brother all about the trip. Having lost his sight, Tina brought colour to his world. Little did she know that her father and brother, Andrea, were having an adventure of their own.
This story lends itself well to a series as more challenges await. A teacher – Mr Verdegris – gives Clementina a pendant to be used whenever she feels she is in trouble, it will summon the teacher to her immediately while she is in the other time dimension. There she is tasked with finding and bringing back a genuine Stradivarius violin. Prior to Clementina’s quest, her school friend Ruby had been tasked to find the Dead Sea Scrolls, and another girl, Saffron, is destined for the next mission. But who is the intended recipient of these items? Well, running alongside Tina’s story, a professor waits in the Arctic to hear of her success or failure. This subplot delves into the topic of climate change, but as to the full reason behind the girls’ time travel, that was never really clear to me – maybe that becomes more obvious in the next book.
For me, the story was quite complicated to follow due to the subplots running in conjunction with Tina’s time travel. I’m sure this is setting the scene for future books, and will make more sense in due course.
There was no real conclusion, neither in Italy nor back at school; whether the girls will feature again is anyone’s guess. I didn’t feel the blurb correctly set the course for the story, especially in identifying the target audience – i.e. someone much younger than me 😉 and more likely a reader of YA fiction.
The magical elements of the story, the pendant, the time travel, and the backstory of Ruby’s prior challenge, made for interesting reading, and the author did a good job in depicting an authentic image of 17th Century Rome. Not the story I expected, but enjoyable for the time travel aspect and the location.
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