Author: Damian Dibben
Publication: September 6, 2020 by Hanover Square Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Enter the world of Renaissance Venice, where the competition for fame and fortune can mean life or death…
Artists flock here, not just for wealth and fame, but for revolutionary color. Yet artist Giorgione “Zorzo” Barbarelli’s career hangs in the balance. Competition is fierce, and his debts are piling up. When Zorzo hears a rumor of a mysterious new pigment, brought to Venice by the richest man in Europe, he sets out to acquire the color and secure his name in history.
Winning a commission to paint a portrait of the man’s wife, Sybille, Zorzo thinks he has found a way into the merchant’s favor. Instead he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that stretches across Europe and a marriage coming apart inside one of the floating city’s most illustrious palazzi.
As the water levels rise and the plague creeps ever closer, an increasingly desperate Zorzo isn’t sure whom he can trust. Will Sybille prove to be the key to Zorzo’s success or the reason for his downfall?
Atmospheric and suspenseful and filled with the famous artists of the era, The Color Storm is an intoxicating story of art and ambition, love and obsession.
“Color. It’s all color,” says Zorzo. “That’s where it begins and ends. Venetians understand. Color is mood, love, sorrow, life. Color is what the world is built of.”
There are quite a few words in a synopsis where when I see them I just can’t resist reading the book and one of those words is Renaissance, especially when it’s set in Italy. So when I found out about The Color Storm by Damian Dibben there was no question. I just had to read it and I’m so glad that I did because I loved it so much and could hardly put the book down.
This is the story of the artist Giorgio “Giorgione” Barbarelli’s also known as Zorzo. His career isn’t going as good as it once was and he’s in quite some debt. Then he hears about a new pigment called ‘Prince Orient’ that he can’t help but be intrigued with. Eventually he comes into contact with the wealthy man that owns the pigment and gets a commision to paint his wife, Sybille. The closer Zorzo gets to Sybille, the more he gets sucked into deceit and deadly schemes that even he won’t be able to talk himself out of.
I really am a sucker for books that are about painters in Renaissance Italy and the fact that it’s set in Venice I also found really amazing because I feel like most are set in Rome or Florence. At least the ones I’ve read in the past have been set in those cities so it’s been nice to read one set in Venice. I absolutely loved the author’s description of the city and its canals. He really immersed the reader in it and it was like being transported back in the past and being there myself.
Another thing that I want to mention is how surprised I was by some of the plot twists of the story. Some of them had me reeling, they were so unexpected. But I do love being surprised by stories! Also need to shout out the character of Leda. Another surprise because I hadn’t expected to end up loving her as much when I first met her in the book but she was incredible. A self-made woman in 16th century Italy with her own growing business, how could I not admire and love that.
Overall, The Color Storm is one brilliant read. Damian Dibben showed us the colorful but also darker side of Renaissance Venice, which was such an extraordinary time in history. Definitely one of my favorite books in historical fiction ever!
About the author:
Damian Dibben is an acclaimed British author whose novels have been translated into twenty-seven languages and published in over forty countries. His series The History Keepers was an international publishing phenomenon. Dibben originally trained as an artist and scenic designer before becoming an actor and screenwriter. He lives on London’s South Bank with his partner Ali and their dogs Dudley, Daphne and Velvet. The Colour Storm is his second novel to explore seismic events of the past, whose influence and power can be felt to this day. His first, Tomorrow, was published to critical acclaim in 2018.