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Book of Secrets set in Rome

  • Submitted: 2nd April 2024

Book of Secrets set in Rome – Anna Mazzola

I have recently come across a real life story about a woman who was accused of being a witch in 1600s Rome, accused of running a poisoning ring. A fascinating and horrific story  -These women brewed poisons that they offered to women who came to them for help with abusive husbands.

A real story…fictionalised and brought to life by Anna Mazzola? Yes please!!

Map of locations in The Book of Secrets



Destination : Rome

Author guide: Anna Mazzola

Genre: historical, inspired by true fact

Food and drink to accompany: Nothing! You can’t trust anyone!!




A novel to transport you to Rome


Map of locations in The Book of Secrets

I have recently come across the story of Giulia Tofana and her involvement in a real life historical mystery. She was a woman who lived in 1600s Rome and who concocted a poison that was then distributed to women who begged her for help in avoiding their abusive husbands. Anna Mazzola has taken this story and turned it on its head – giving Giulia herself a voice as well as letting the women in her circle speak. And the result is quite something!

The scene setting is wonderful if not dark. This is the time of the plague and the dictates of the Catholic Church, of persecution and of a society where women were controlled in every way. When the plague is under control, the authorities start to notice excess deaths where the body was described as looking healthy and ruddy. That of course brings an investigation in itself. Secrets and lies swirl around the dark corners of Rome and the insides of these women’s houses. The writing flows and creates the most vivid of places so that was a real treat for me.

Even though inspired by historical fact, the story is fictionalised and I think Anna has achieved a really good mix. Real people float through the pages and Anna’s imagination does the rest. It was fascinating to see the type of research involved in the author note.

Map of locations in The Book of Secrets

Stefano is one of the few men in the book and for good reason – this is the story of the women and how they suffered and why they felt compelled to do what they did. The tension throughout is palpable.  Even though you suspect what is going to happen at the end, there are still questions and time to reflect.

I wish I didn’t read in such a vivid way – I can still smell the stench of the Tor Di Nona prison and hear the dripping water down the walls. Worryingly, I  did feel I got to know the women really well and started to ‘understand’ where they were coming from. I felt nervous for them reading Stefano’s chapters and willing them to ‘get a move on’ when they came up next. A great way of writing this story for tension!

A brilliant read which will lead to far too many hours on Google afterwards 😉

Map of locations in The Book of Secrets


Postcard details:  Access The BookTrail’s Map of Locations and travel guide here

More books set in Italy


BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Book of Secrets


Twitter:  @Anna_Mazz     Facebook :/AnnaMazzolaWriter

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