By Andrea Bettinelli Dal Cin
I read with great interest The Dew of Heaven published by Cactus Moon of Tempe, Arizona, written by Angelo Paratico. His potrait of a Portuguese Monsignor living in Macao as a villan, the bad guy, sparked initial curiosity which quickly turned into unease that eventually mutated into negative feelings.
Positive things first, negative later.
The book is a great page-turner, where the readers join in a desperate chase for a mysterious diary left by Gino Montecorvo, a Sicilian officer who was sent to China in 1900 to fight the Boxers.
By hints we came to know that, after the war, Gino had settled in Hong Kong and Macau where he built his personal fortune and had a son. This son is a rather awkward character, still living in Hong Kong in the present days. Since the very first pages, we are lead to believe that the diary contains a sort of a dark secret, a mysterious riddle, and the search for it causes death and destruction.
Being myself a lover of history and a keen observer of deviant human behaviour, I must confess that the historical reconstructions presented by Angelo Paratico is extremely accurate down to smallest details. And the craving to peep into the famous diary reaches its climax well into the first half of the book. Finally going through a real catharsis, we have the privilege and pleasure to find it.
The story of Gino finally unravels under our eyes and the await is over, the long dead Italian officer speaks to us directly, with his own words, explaining his youth, his loves, his hopes after volunteering to China and then, at least the bloody secret is manifest, open under our preying eyes.
What was not to my taste about The Dew of Heaven is the viciousness used to portrait the character of the Portuguese Monsignor, a man sexually depraved, an atheist and by nature a murderer without regrets. His badness is clearly exposed to the readers‘ eyes and is rather revolting and disgusting. It is something akin to discovering a poisonous rattle-snake into our own bed. The fact that he is a Catholic high ranking prelate leave a bad taste in my mouth and I am shocked by the daring tones that have been used to describe him. This book is a piece of work structured on several layers, very direct, precise and with a final chapter, which, I confess gave me nightmares for three consecutive nights, leaving scars which will not disappear completely. Despite all its beauty I somehow regret having read this book, I should not have read it. Purity and virginity should be protected and safeguarded always and now mine are irreversibly compromised!
I wish I had not done Angelo a favour reviewing his book. I do prefer Grimm’s Fairy Tales.