Author: Carol Ann Moore
Release Date: October 21, 2022
Genre: Urban Fantasy with a strong feminist twist
The Protection of Men
Holy men, the Dominican Inquisitors had come to Venice, they were swarming everywhere looking for reasons to purify people, no one was safe, least of all women who were rumoured to have magic in their blood.
Everyday life went on as normal, but Mamma was quieter than usual, and she had become fiercely protective of Sofia and me. We were no longer allowed to roam through the forest or the countryside, she wanted to know where we were all the time. The only time we were allowed out alone was when she sent us on errands to either collect or deliver goods to other families in the village, even then she would tell us to hurry back.
I could not ask Mamma about what had happened between her and Papa and I never spoke of it to Sofia, I just knew how it made me feel inside. It was hate, pure and simple. My papa, who had been a constant source of wisdom and protection in my life, had gone from hero to demon in a matter of seconds. The time it had taken him to strike my mamma. I could never forgive him.
Then one day, while he was on his way back from the market, Papa was knocked down and killed in the piazza by a horse and our lives changed forever.
We thought Mamma had gone mad with grief, she locked herself away in her bedroom for days. “What are we going to do, Sofia? Mamma won’t come out of her room, there are customers knocking every day at the shop!”
“She needs time to get herself together, she has a broken heart, and you need to be strong, Aella. I want you to go into the woods and gather some herbs for me, I’m making Mamma a tincture, go and get me some sweet chestnut leaves, valerian root, skullcap flowers and the berries from the hawthorn bush,” Sofia ordered.
I looked at my elder sister, at how she seemed older and wiser already, and I knew I had to take my place in this family of women. Life would be different now, although none of us realised just how disparate it would actually be. I felt a sense of strength welling up inside me, I felt a conviction to protect and be strong for my mamma and Sofia.
Some time later, Sofia’s tincture in a heavy stone goblet, I walked quietly up the creaky wooden stairs that twisted up to Mamma’s room, I knocked gently at her door.
“Entra” she barely whispered.
Her room was clothed in shadows, a narrow bar of light was trying to creep through the tiny slit in the dense velvet curtains. Dominating the middle of the room was the vast wooden bed that she had shared with my papa. She was lying on her side, surrounded by her books, wrapped in a fur cloak and gently chanting under her breath. There was the heavy scent of incense in the air.
“Mamma, I’ve brought you something to make you feel better, please don’t cry any more.”
“I am not crying il mio bambina, at least not for the love of your papa.”
I crept gingerly to the edge of the bed and sat down.
“What do you mean, Mamma?”
“We are in terrible danger, Aella; without your papa we have no protection.”
“From what? I don’t understand what you mean, Mamma, you can run the business better than him! I hated him anyway, I saw what he did to you that day!” I was angry with her; we did not need him and his bullying ways.
“Ah, yes Aella, I knew that you had seen, and I know that you think I am weak because I did nothing to stop him from hurting me. You do not fully understand the ways of this world, but I think the time has come to teach you.”
“I don’t want to learn if it means that I have to be meek and mild and never have my own thoughts or opinions! Why does a man get to do what he wants and speak his mind? I am as good as any boy! Look at Sofia, she has the Sight! I know of no boy who can do what she can do. You healed more people with your herbs and potions than Papa ever did! You know the old charms from Nonna, real spells that work, why can we not be proud of who we are?”
“Because they would kill us if they knew!” Mamma spat the words out.
“What do you mean? Why would anyone want to kill us! We have harmed no one.”
“There are people in the village who have been whispering about Sofia. While your papa was alive, they dare not take those whispers too far, but now he is gone they will be running to the priests with their stories.”
“But why, what has she done that is so wrong?”
“Nothing, she has done nothing more than nature has allowed her to do, but there are nasty people amongst us Aella. They came to your sister for knowledge that would help them to harm others and because she would not aid them, they will wish to cause her pain. There are always bad souls in this world, and you would do well to open your eyes to them.”
“So, we stay silent?”
“Yes, if we want to live. We do not draw attention to ourselves, and we just carry on with Papa’s business. If anyone comes asking about Sofia, we deny all knowledge of anything. The Church does not agree with divination, they say it is the devil’s work.”
“But Mamma, there are so many that Sofia has helped! Everyone knows about her!”
“Those people, I hope, are our friends. If anyone asks you about the family, we just run an apothecary business. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mamma, I understand. We have to lie and deny our true nature because we are nothing in this world if we are not men!”
“Aella! Do not underestimate the danger we are in. I know how you feel, I feel it too, but we will feel nothing if we are cold in the ground! Stop acting like a petulant child, it is time to grow up! Now, go and help your sister.”
About the Book:
“The bag sat on a display shelf in the main window of the second-hand shop, waiting for her to come. Captivatingly black, if you looked close enough you could see it almost pulsing with a keen breath…patiently watching, waiting. Aella Saluagius stood back to admire her handiwork, the glamour was in place and ready, all that was needed now was some good fortune and the pull of the waxing moon.”
She had waited an eternity to find them all again, the time for Sisterhood is now. The magic is in us all.
Seven women. One will make amends. Six will seek revenge.
The story is set in the modern day, with a few chapters of flashback regarding the main protagonist as she tells her story to another character. The excerpt I have sent you is part of the flashback scene. The story revolves around seven women, all descended from a coven in the 14th Century in Italy. It tells of their revenge for the misogyny that they’ve experienced and the ultimate final spell that is cast to rectify the world’s wrongs towards women. The story has a circular narrative as it ends in Italy also.
Amazon US: https://a.co/d/cFofJGl
The author’s daughter is an artist and she has designed the artwork for the book. Her name is Libby Hagger.
About the Author:
Carol Ann Moore
Author, Feminist, and Dog Lover.
Carol is originally from a small market town in the South of England but a few years ago, her husband and she upped sticks and left the UK for rugged and rural France. They’d had enough of the rat race and decided to jump, with both feet, into a different, but much simpler existence.
In her previous life, sehe was an English teacher to students who needed a bit of extra help to learn. She loved her job, the students being the highlight of her days.
Nowadays her time is spent writing, sporadically helping her husband renovate their old stone farmhouse, and looking after two enormous dogs. The amount of dribble she wipes up on a daily basis is remarkable, from the dogs, not her husband!
I’ve always adored reading and storytelling. With a book you’re never bored, you can escape into it wherever you may be. She is passionate about telling women’s stories, their voices have been muted for too long, hopefully, she can do them justice.
Author contact links: