Marco Lobo — Winner of the 2012 Contest: “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading”
What people are saying about The Witch Hunter’s Amulet
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue May 2012
Marco Lobo’s utterly fascinating novel is set during the 1560s when the Inquisition raged across Europe, but Europe is far, far away from the action of Lobo’s book. In these pages, feared and reviled witch hunter Manuel Andrade is sent by his Catholic church masters to the far reaches of the Portuguese empire-in this case to Goa, India, where Andrade arrives in 1564 and, like most newcomers to India, is immediately felled by the heat, the humidity, the verystrangeness of the place. He links his survival to the possession of the amulet in the book’s title, but in truth fanatics like Andrade (“I know all about Satan,” he says. “I’ve made my living by him”) can survive anywhere they have fear to play upon. Lobo’s novel-leanly and energetically written, and expertly produced by Christopher Matthews Publishing-delves deeply into the mechanics of such cultural fears, turning a key element of the plot around the very appealing character of converso Abraham Garcia and the very personal elements of institutional religious persecution. The novel is also filled with the local sights, sounds, and customs of 16th-century India, from crowded bazaars to tiger hunts. Most readers will be able to guess what happens when the machinery Andrade has served so zealously turns on him, but that element of predictability doesn’t diminish the many enjoyments on offer here. A very entertaining debut novel.
Reviews of The Witch Hunter’s Amulet (Kindle Edition) on Amazon.com
By ‘Mystery fan’
5.0 out of 5 stars In a class with Tai-Pan and Shogun, March 22, 2012
Just as the Vikings explored the North Atlantic, the Portuguese were Europe’s first great eastbound seafarers, establishing trading posts and colonies in East Africa, India and Southeast Asia many decades before Columbus’ voyages to the West Indies. Yet precious little about their exploits appears in English-language fiction. With this book, Marco Lobo has set out to fill that vacuum. Set in the enclave of Goa in the 16th century, The Witch Hunter’s Amulet features swashbuckling characters who pioneered the early contacts between East and West, against a backdrop of India’s Hindu-Muslim wars and the Catholic Inquisition. With a narrative reminiscent of an old Tyrone Power adventure film, readers get well-developed, sympathetic characters, a history lesson and exposure to exotic Asian culture. The book is so well polished for a first novel, I could easily see Hollywood turning it into a Technicolor spectacular.
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Thought Provoking Read, March 21, 2012
Descriptive prose transports you to another time. Marco Lobo’s narrative paints a vivid picture of a world of yesterday that is too close for comfort to persecution still alive in the world today. An excellent read that is both engaging and thought provoking.
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, full of atmosphere, unsettling, April 28, 2012
The imagery in the book was so vivid that I could feel myself back in that period, the oppressive heat, the exotic land, smells, filling your senses, the ever present fear of the people who in the course of living a totally ordinary life might find themselves accused of the most evil and vile associations with Satan, for decidedly unsaintly motivations. Marco’s book delves into the minds of the characters, each one driven by their own sense of greed, fear, lust or just survival in a time where everyone was exposed to injustice and viciousness, even the accuser. Food for thought, perhaps not much has really changed.
5.0 out of 5 stars FIRST-CLASS DEBUT – A MUST READ FOR FANS OF HISTORICAL FICTION, May 13, 2012
By Anne “My Viewpoint”
This review is from: The Witch Hunter’s Amulet (Kindle Edition)
The title describes this period of history accurately. The Inquisition was a very black period and the Church was determined to rid their holdings of anyone they suspected as not a true Christian. Inquisition was the ultimate way to show Church’s wrath and in very few cases, its fairness.
The novel opens with the burning of an effigy of a woman in Northern Portugal. She died during interrogation Manuel Andrade, the Witch Hunter. The author’s descriptions are so detailed you can almost smell the stink of the crowd and the smell of sulfur, which was added so the crowd would believe that the Devil was really being driven out of their village.
Following his “successes” on the continent Cardinal Henrique appoints Andrade to search for witches throughout the Portuguese territories of India. The 16th century was a time when anyone considered different risked being called a witch and your enemies could accuse you of witchcraft. The church forced people to convert to Christianity and then if you were not “devout” enough in their eyes they could charge you with witchcraft. It was a way for the witch hunter, officials of the area and the Church to acquire the wealth of those executed and to promote fear and religious fervor among the rest of the town.
The Witch Hunters and the Church used “THE MALLEUS MALEFICARUM” as an aid to recognize witches. “It presented arguments based on gross distortions of logic, without which the arguments could not be supported. Any inexplicable malady could be attributed to magic, and therefore, might be considered witchcraft.” While this novel is a work of fiction, this book was real and used as an aid to discover witches.
This is an impeccably well-written debut, the characters are well developed and the author’s descriptions of events and places allow you to travel back in time. If you like historical fiction this is a novel you should read. I look forward to reading more from this promising author.
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightenment and Entertainment in Equal Measure, May 26, 2012
By John Brooks (Tokyo)
This review is from: The Witch Hunter’s Amulet: A Historical Novel of Greed, Hypocrisy and Persecution (Paperback)
In his debut novel, Marco Lobo immerses the reader in a 16th century world, laced through with irony and cynicism, in which for some, religion functions as little, if anything, more than a tool for the attainment and increase of earthly power.
And in games of earthly power, the Catholic Church often reigns supreme through its geopolitical and commercial alliances, its sheer wealth, and–central to the story–its exercise of one of its then most-powerful weapons, the Inquisition.
From beginning to end, multi-sensory descriptions vivify the story’s settings, including 16th century Portugal; its Asian possessions, Goa and Macau; and related locales. The long reach of Portuguese influence in Asia during this period is brilliantly brought to life as the story progresses.
But the viewpoints presented are not only European. Diverse perspectives on the novel’s themes and events are interwoven throughout as reality is refracted through the minds of the story’s multicultural cast of characters.
The author demonstrates finely tuned insight into the human psyche as he depicts character interactions, backgrounds, motivations, and courses of action with a naturalness, subtlety, and complexity that leave the story’s outcome largely in suspense until it unfolds.
Inspired, as the Author’s Notes make clear, by the lives of actual people and by actual events of the time, “The Witch Hunter’s Amulet” is equally a novel of historical insight and page-turning drama, suffused with an artistry and precision of language that heighten its many attributes.
A provocative, mind-opening story and a flat out great read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Unusual Adventure, May 25, 2012
By Bungi (San Jose, CA USA)
This review is from: The Witch Hunter’s Amulet (Kindle Edition)
The Witch Hunter’s Amulet is an outstanding novel. This unusual tale intrigued me from the start, and kept me engaged until the end. It begins in India, during the time that the Inquisition is raging in Portugal. Manuel Andrade, a seasoned Inquisitor, is sent out to Portuguese Goa to identify witches and infidels, mete out punishment, and enforce compliance with the rules of the Inquisition. His arrival is met with alarm by the locals, who devise a plan to keep the “witch hunter” at bay. They convince him to go on a quest for gems to make an amulet for his own protection. We follow him throughout the region on his arduous and exciting journey.
The Witch Hunter’s Amulet is based on actual people and historical events, and the author has made the tale fast-paced and interesting. The chapters are short, and enable the reader to easily experience the climate and exotic atmosphere of India, while learning about its religious and political history along the way.
The story is creative, carefully researched, and well-written. It is an amazing adventure, and I recommend it highly. I hope that there will be a sequel. Bravo Marco Lobo!
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