A Poisoner's Tale

A Poisoner's Tale


'A gorgeous historical novel about the legend of female poisoner Giulia Tofana, brimming with rich detail and intrigue.’ C. J. COOKE

Rome, 1656

In the shadowy backstreets of the Eternal City lies an apothecary’s shop – a place for women to take their heartbreaks and troubles. Herbs for childbirth. Tarot readings to tell their fortunes. An undetectable poison that can kill in four drops.

Alongside her circle of female poisoners, Giulia Tofana dispenses her deadly potion to free the downtrodden women of the city from their abusive husbands. A path she’s determined to follow after a harrowing childhood in Palermo.

But even in a time of plague, it does not go unnoticed when the men of Rome begin to fall like flies.

With a newly elected Pope hell-bent on ridding the city of heretics and witches, and the Holy Office of the Inquisition on her tail, Giulia is in more danger than ever. . .

How far will she go for the women who need her help?

A Poisoner’s Tale takes the reader on a tense, challenging but spellbinding journey on what it is like to be a woman who rebels against the society in which she finds herself. This book is not just a retelling of the legend of Giulia Tofana but an ode to sisterhood and motherhood, to defiance and secret rebellion.


'Kemp has created a complex and courageous heroine who is not afraid to walk a dark and dangerous path for what she believes in, and I fell in love with her from the start.’ ELIZABETH LEE

‘Taut, thrilling and wholly immersive. Kemp is an astonishingly talented storyteller, and her characters will linger long after you’ve finished reading.’ NAOMI KELSEY

‘Gripping. Devastating. A beautifully intense read.ISABELLE SCHULER

'Poignant from beginning to end.' LAURA CARLIN


  • An utterly captivating tale of poisoners and papal intrigue, this novel is a taut, thrilling and wholly immersive journey through Rome’s underbelly. Kemp is an astonishingly talented storyteller, and her characters will linger long after you’ve finished reading.
    NAOMI KELSEY, author of The Burnings

About the author

Cathryn Kemp

Cathryn Kemp is a Sunday Times bestselling ghostwriter and author, with a prolific career writing celebrity, inspirational, true crime, addiction and nostalgia titles. Her personal memoir Coming Clean won the Big Red Read Prize for Non-Fiction.

A Poisoner’s Tale is her first foray into historical fiction. When not researching dark, dangerous and beguiling women from history, Cathryn can be found on the south coast with her son and her familiar, a ginger cat called Gingey.
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