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.
“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.” – Stan Dragland, author of Strangers & Others: The Great Eastern
The Oracle of Cumae is entertaining and full of surprises. It’s a novel that relishes in poking fun at itself and its characters.