Cover Image: The Oracle of Cumae

The Oracle of Cumae

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Member Reviews

Thank you @netgalley for an audiobook version of The Oracle of Cumae. This is a book that you will definitely finish in one sitting and then instantly want to pick it back up and read all over again! The beginning chapter swooped me up and took me along this journey. I love the narrative and the development that happened throughout this book. The narrator voice was at a good pace and clear. Loved this reading experience!
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This was a book I didn't realize I was searching for until I found it. As someone who studied classics, I love seeing how ancient mythology has a much larger impact on our lives today than we realize and this book was a fantastical take on this idea. It explores a world where a few remnants of some ancient mythology still exist and the main character and her family accept this with little difficulty and their lives are made much more exciting because of it. 

I loved all the little details about how the ancient and modern world interact. For example, the Lamia, who are a creature from Greek mythology that are now affected by when the Pope says Mass.  Melissa Hardy has created a very rich world in a very short book. 

I particularly liked the way this story plays with the traditional issues of using love potions. You expect a very stereotypical love potion mix up, but instead, you get a very unique take on the use of love potions. 

Pretty much my only complaint or really just a quibble with this book, is that I was sometimes distracted by what information the narrator had access to. The story is told from the first-person view of Mariuccia Umbellino and I really enjoyed her storytelling voice. However, she would sometimes give the reader a large amount of information about what was going on inside of another character's mind and I was drawn out of the story by this, as I thought to myself "How could Mariuccia know that". This can be partially explained away by the fact that we are told at the beginning that Mariuccia's story has been passed down for many years and was originally told by her when she was very old, so maybe she is a somewhat unreliable narrator, but it did distract me while reading nonetheless. 

Even with that being said I would HIGHLY recommend this book. It reads like a classic story, but with the literary style of a modern masterpiece. It was light and fun to read, a perfect book to make you smile during these crazy times.
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This is a clever and fun little book that touches on mythology and the power and resilience of women.  It’s both touching and at times very funny.  I really liked the story, and generally love audiobooks, but this narrator was very distracting.  I wish I had read instead.
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Great book! This was a fun and short read that takes you to a quaint little farm in the Sibylline Mountains of Italy where you get to follow the headstrong Mariuccia as she helps save an oracle. I loved Mari's character and felt the book could actually have been a bit longer.

I unfortunately, wasn't a fan of Saffron Henderson's narration. I feel like she would be great for children's books but just didn't work for this one.
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I enjoyed this book set in Italy in the 1800s that makes good use of religious superstition and beliefs in Gods and Oracles. The narration was a little more distracting that I usually enjoy because of the attempts to provide different voices, all in Italian accents. But, it didn't take too much away from my ability to like the story/characters. 

Audiobook ARC from the publisher via NetGalley, but the opinions are my own.
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The Oracle of Cumae was an unexpectedly enjoyable foray into a different time and place. While erring on the side of silly, it was entertaining and absorbing. I listened with a smile on my face. 

This is one of those books I’m very glad to have gotten on audio. The names of characters and settings would have been impossible to wrap my head around otherwise. I was grateful to have someone pronouncing them for me, instead of being constantly distracted by my own poor internal attempts every time I stumbled across them in the text. Also, there is something about the story itself that lends itself incredibly well to an auditory experience. After all, the framework is that of an old woman telling the secrets of her life to a priest on her 99th birthday. That setup is perfect for an audiobook.

My favorite thing about this novel is the setting. Early nineteenth-century Italy isn’t a setting that would usually grab me, but a large portion of this story took place in a remote mountain village that seemed happily adrift in time. It was utterly charming, and I would love to live in, or at least visit, such a place. The scenery was well described and sounded absolutely beautiful.

The characters in this book were seriously wacky. Mariuccia, our perspective character, is grouchy in her elderly present and a snarky tomboy in her teenage past. I really liked her. And then there’s the Oracle herself. She just about defies description, but I enjoyed her immensely. The rest of the cast ranged from pleasant to amusingly antagonistic to downright silly. I did a lot of eye rolling and, even if entertaining, this all became a bit much after a while. I prefer my humor dry and in smaller doses than an entire novel, but it didn’t grate too terribly. Some of the voices the narrator chose for these more laughable characters might have been part of what made the story seem over-the-top, but said choices also did a lot to flesh out these characters. Saffron Henderson, the narrator, gave a great performance.

While not perfect, The Oracle of Cumae was a fun read. The supernatural element was just enough to give the story a little extra kick, the characters were unique, and the setting was lovely. If you like your historical fiction with a dash of magical realism and a heaping helping of humor, I think you might enjoy this one.
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The Oracle of Cumae was such a fun book to listen to! I didn’t expect it to feel so lighthearted going into it but it truly felt like I was sitting next to an elder and listen to them tell their story. I’m convinced that Melissa Hardy must know a lot of Italians because all the characters felt like one of my own large family events. No one took themselves too seriously, and always made time for food and wine together.
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I really wanted to like this book and I feel like if I read it, I would’ve, but the audiobook was just not good. It was difficult to get into, and the narrators awful Italian accents were distracting from the actual stories going on. I think the story has a really good plot, but there’s just so much distracting from it that you can’t focus on it. I would definitely recommend having the narrator to not do the accent and just tell it like it is (but maybe more excitement in certain parts), her voice is also very monotone at times when it shouldn’t be. I’m very appreciative of netgalley and the publisher for the arc of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review!
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