Book review: Isabella Mancini, The Violinist’s Apprentice

The Violinists Apprentice

The Violinists Apprentice Cover

The Violinist’s Apprentice

A dark journey through time.

It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch.  How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.

Purchase Links

UK –

US –


I dived into this book at the start of my grey commute, and honestly, almost missed my stop the first day! Part-mystery, part-timeslip, part-magic, and a lot of adventure, we meet Clementina as she prepares for a school-trip to Rome. Although her concern for her brother is at the forefront of her mind, it’s clear that there’s also excitement that her dreamy geography teacher will also be in attendance. But just what is he up to, and what’s the meaning behind the gift he gives her, that she is warned to tell nobody about?

Tina is as much in the dark as we are, as she is whisked back to the 1600s, and a Rome which is dark and dangerous, especially to somebody as different as she is. There is action a-plenty as she tries to solve the riddle she’s been set, as well as find her way safely home.

I found this a real page-turner, as the pace builds, and loved the account of a period in Rome’s history that I’ve not read much fiction about. We get the detail of a city very much torn between the haves and have-nots. Meeting young Antonio Stradivari was fascinating too!

About Isabella

The Violinists Apprentice Author Pic

Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.

Previous books by Olga Swan:

An Englishwoman in America

From Paradis to Perdition

Pensioners in Paradis

The Mazurek Express



3rd Degree Murder

Social Media Links

Twitter: @IsabellaManci10.


Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past

Amazon page for Isabella Mancini:

Amazon page for Olga Swan:

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