The Oracle of Cumae

The Oracle of Cumae


By Melissa Hardy

No one gets the better of the Oracle of Cumae

Mariuccia Umbellino is a young woman living in the remote mountain village of Montemonaco, Italy, in the early years of the 19th century. Nearby, the secret recesses of the Grotto of the Fates—home to an ancient oracle of Apollo—are about to be invaded and destroyed, on orders from the Pope. But the men sent to do the dirty work don’t know who (or what) they’re dealing with. This oracle and this girl won’t be messed with. 

In the dark of night, Mariuccia and her mother set out to rescue their revered oracle. In the adventure that ensues, things are blown up, love spells are miscast then recast, a downtrodden housekeeper gets her revenge, and the mysterious fate of a jettatore—a person born with the Evil Eye—is finally revealed.

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About the Author

Melissa Hardy has published five novels and two collections of short stories, including Broken Road, The Uncharted Heart, and A Cry of Bees. She has won the Journey Prize and been published in numerous journals, including The Atlantic, Exile, and Descant, and been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. An avowed Italophile, she lives in the village of Port Stanley, Ontario.

Product Information

  • Release: October 8, 2019

  • $19.95 Paperback

  • 222 Pages

  • 6 x 9

  • Adult Fiction

  • ISBN: 9781772601145

Praise for The Oracle of Cumae

As it meanders toward its climax, The Oracle of Cumae is entertaining and full of surprises. It’s a novel that relishes in poking fun at itself and its characters.” - Foreword Reviews

“The 99-year-old female narrator of The Oracle of Cumae spins a wickedly engaging and hilarious yarn as she unloads her secrets. The story crackles with snappy dialogue, sorcery, romantic and evil spells, a mummy, oracles, jettatores, explosions, disembodied limbs, and boozy parties set in Italian olive groves. This reader didn't want this party of a novel to end! Melissa Hardy practices her own kind of wizardry as her entertaining troupe of unusual characters navigates through humorous and imaginative terrains. One of the funniest novels I've read in a long time—maybe ever.” - Catharine Leggett, author of The Way to Go Home and In Progress.

“I had been under the apparently false impression that oracles are always dignified and confined to a single sacred space, but the oracle in Melissa Hardy’s new novel is sly, meddlesome and peripatetic. She gets around in the company of a scruffy, independent-minded young girl, the narrator of this hilarious, anachronistic, romance/comedy of errors. Written by a self-confessed Italophile, and mostly set in early nineteenth century Italy, The Oracle of Cumae is a fascinating book of secrets ‘steeped in tradition and marinated in superstition’” – Stan Dragland, author of Strangers & Others: The Great Eastern

“Melissa Hardy is quietly becoming one of the best writers of short fiction working today, equally at ease with modern realist fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, and pure fantasy.” – Terri Windling, editor, in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (2003)

“The Oracle of Cumae is one of the funniest, most unexpected book I’ve read in a long time. If you’re looking for a bit of goofiness with a wonderfully down-to-earth protagonist, I strongly recommend this book. I read it yesterday afternoon and I’m still grinning.” - A Bookish Type