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The Saffron Crocus by Alison McMahan
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The Saffron Crocus

by Alison McMahan

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Recently added byBrokenTeepee, kara.shamy, Mishker

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I hadn’t realized when I accepted this book for review that it was a young adult novel – I do read them I just didn’t take particular note when reading the synopsis. This tale of mystery, murder, song and romance takes place in Venice. Our heroine, Isabella, has a remarkable singing voice and longs to sing in public. Her singing teacher, Margherita, has a magical voice and a history. Not to mention a very handsome son, Rafaele. Margherita has never told her son who his father is. She gives him a special gift and promises to tell him his parentage but the next night she is found murdered.

Secrets abound in this story and for an adult reader most of them are easy to discern but a younger reader would be intrigued by the breadcrumbs left by the author as Isabella tries to help Rafaele find who killed his mother and then help him get out of serious trouble.

It is a sweet tale with a few twists and turns along the way to keep the young reader very engaged. The time period was complicated for political and religious reasons and Ms. McMahan weaves the necessary information into her story well. The ugly aspects of history are handled discretely enough so that they won’t offend sensitive readers. I read the book on a flight from Nashville to Denver and it made the time enjoyable. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Jun 4, 2015 |
Isabella longs for nothing more than to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but in 17th Century Venice, only men may sing in public, not fifteen-year-old young ladies. Isabella’s vocal teacher, Margherita encourages her to keep singing in hopes that she will be able to perform in opera. However, after one of Margherita’s performances Isabella finds her dead, strangled. After Margherita is murdered, secrets about her life begin to surface. The secrets affect Margherita’s handsome son, Rafaele, as well. Rafaele kept Margherita’s saffron business alive, but now someone seems to want to kill Rafaele also. After a botched attempt on his life, Rafaele is accused of murder and Isabella is determined to find out who killed her beloved vocal teacher and set Rafaele free.
The Saffron Crocus is an intriguing young adult historical mystery that incorporates many historical aspects and people in 17th Century Venice. Isabella is young but determined, and while trying to solve the mystery of her teacher’s death, she matures and grows into a young woman. Isabella is given many challenges to overcome, finding out who killed her teacher, a chance to sing in men’s clothing, and the opportunity to save the man she loves; by the end she is a woman I could connect with and respect. The mystery is engaging, with a few twists and turns. I was glad to see a lot of history of the time incorporated into the mystery also, such as saffron as a cure for the plague, the treatment of Jews in Venice as well as art, music and culture. Overall, an interesting young adult historical mystery. ( )
  Mishker | May 7, 2015 |
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