Book Tour Featuring *The Poison Keeper* by Deborah Swift @swiftstory @hfbt #giveaway

The Poison Keeper
by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Quire Books
Paperback & eBook; 406 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction



Naples 1633

Aqua Tofana – One drop to heal. Three drops to kill.

Giulia Tofana longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business, but Mamma has always been secretive and refuses to tell Giulia the hidden keys to her success. When Mamma is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi, Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade.

Giulia must run for her life, and escapes to Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, to the home of her Aunt Isabetta, a famous courtesan. But when Giulia hears that her mother has been executed, and the cruel manner of her death, she swears she will wreak revenge on the Duke de Verdi.

The trouble is, Naples is in the grip of Domenico, the Duke’s brother, who controls the city with the ‘Camorra’, the mafia. Worse, her Aunt Isabetta, under Domenico’s thrall, insists that she should be consort to him – the brother of the man she has vowed to kill.

Based on the legendary life of Italian poisoner Giulia Tofana, this is a story of hidden family secrets, and how even the darkest desires can be vanquished by courage and love.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



Extract from Chapter 17

Villa Bianca – The Courtesan’s House

Isabetta picked up a horn spoon and carefully measured out a few grains of the powder into the pipe before screwing the lid shut. Heating it over a flame released the smoke. A few long inhalations, and she was calmer, less fractious. Giulia arriving like this had brought back the past, and now her memories would not lie quiet. Truth be told, she was afraid.

The thought she would never see Theofania again seemed impossible. Though she’d been estranged from her sister for more years than she cared to count, she always thought the rift would be mended one day. But now that day would never come. The poppy was a comfort, though she needed more of the stuff now than she used to, and it all cost money. There were occasions when she regretted the life she’d chosen, the days when she couldn’t buy the powder and life became its true unbearable self. On those days she knew herself to be an addict and a whore, and a woman rotten from the inside out.

She thrust these thoughts aside and was just dropping a little belladonna into her eyes when she heard the faint rap at the downstairs door. 

Bella’s client, she thought. She’d let Alessa go to deal with him. She continued to make up her eyes, rimming them with charcoal powder and adding a ground of pearly seashell to the lids.

A clatter of shoes. ‘Beg pardon,’ Alessa said, ‘but it’s a boy. He brought this.’ She held out a sealed letter. ‘It’s from Domenico de Verdi.’ 

Isabetta froze. ‘How do you know?’

‘The livery, mistress. It’s his green and gold. The boy’s waiting for a reply.’

Not another demand for more money. She couldn’t survive without her poppy powder. She tore off the seal and read the message. 

By favour, to book me an appointment with Signora Tofana. I am free this evening after seven, or on Thursday at the same time. I will take her to supper by the harbour and then we will return to your chambers. Please ensure a private room is available on our return. My boy has my purse. You may keep it as proof of my good intentions.

Signor Domenico de Verdi.

So polite. It was as if he had never stood on her doorstep like a bull, and taken her throat in his hands. As if he’d never used a pickaxe on her best tapestry. As if his cursed stick insect of a brother had never pushed her sister to a crushing death. What to make of it? She didn’t know, except that it was the worst possible invitation. Why must his eye have fallen on Giulia?

She clenched a fist, knowing it couldn’t be refused. Even for the sake of Giulia, her own flesh and blood. Nobody refused Domenico de Verdi. Even his name struck fear into every Neapolitan’s heart. 

‘Wait.’ She pinned Alessa with a glare, though it was hardly her fault. Then she took quill and ink and wrote a hasty reply. ‘This evening at seven with Giulia Tofana. Appointment confirmed. S Isabetta Boveri.

‘Take the boy this,’ she said.


About the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 17
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Tuesday, May 18
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Wednesday, May 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Thursday, May 20
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, May 21
Review at Booking With Janelle

Monday, May 24
Review at Bookworlder

Tuesday, May 25
Excerpt at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, May 26
Review at Novels Alive
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Thursday, May 27
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Interview at Books & Benches

Friday, May 28
Feature at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, May 31
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Tuesday, June 1
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 3
Review at Reader_ceygo

Friday, June 4
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Reader_ceygo
Review at The Enchanted Shelf


Enter to win a signed paperback copy or eBook of The Poison Keeper!

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on June 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Poison Keeper

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