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Siciliana

What would you do if you were born into a world where you had no control over your future? Aetna Vespiri, a young Sicilian woman living in French-controlled Sicily in the 1200’s, defies her own fate in answering this question.

Carlo Treviso’s Siciliana weaves a legendary tale, recounting Aetna’s journey as she struggles to bring Sicilians together in rebellion against their French conquerors, the Angevins. Aside from the overarching national struggle, Aetna, along with dynamic side characters like Fra’Diavulu, a formidable man in a devil mask who wields a flaming sword, and Don Rapaci, a great knight who fights with the help of an eagle, also face familial and identity struggles to form a very thrilling conclusion.

Treviso creates a captivating and realistic depiction of rebellion, as he describes both the awe-inspiring nationalistic moments, such as the creation of a new flag, as well as the less rosy-colored moments that happen in the shadows, such as a mob’s bloodthirstiness against the abusive Angevins. The author, the son of a Sicilian immigrant, uses this book to capture the heart of a Sicilian identity, describing the culture, food (he includes little recipes at the back of the book!), architecture, and strong connection to family (cosca). These descriptions help justify why Sicilians wanted to create a national identity for themselves, as well as how they all managed to band together despite a high risk of death.

I heartily enjoyed this rousing historical thriller, but I felt that some of the side characters were not as developed as other characters. While Treviso creates some interesting and unique characters to read about, others felt dull in comparison to the main characters.

I recommend Siciliana to readers who are interested in Sicilian culture or engrossing historical fiction. While the book feels lengthy at times, watching Aetna overcome one impossible situation after another is engaging, and all the elements of Sicilian culture sprinkled in speak to Treviso’s immense heart and personal connection with this story.

Pages: 483 | ASIN: B09TQ5R61R

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