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I Belong

Deadly Destinations: Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli

Deadly Destinations 2015

Deadly Destinations travels to the beautiful city of Venice. Today we are getting an inside look at the dark side of Venice with Donna Jo Napoli and Dark Shimmer. This novel is a fairytale retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White. Dark Shimmer will be released on September 8, 2015 from Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House.


The location of DARK SHIMMER – water.

I tell this as I die.

I tell this to the spirits that fight within me, that think they win.  Evil spirits.  Idiots.

The coals beneath my feet have already scorched my skin beyond feeling.  I stomp on them.

It is ironic to die by fire when I have lived by water.

Twice every day the tides rise, twice they fall.  But sometimes they rise and rise till you know you’ll scream if they keep rising but it wouldn’t matter because when they rise that high no one can hear your screams anyway.

I stood on the fondamenta on Torcello when I was a girl and laughed as the water climbed my legs.  The wind blew hard; the others had run away, inside, up to the higher levels of the buildings we called our homes. I envisioned them standing on cold stone floors and rubbing their hands over fires.  But I stayed outside, feeling strong against the buffets.  Well, not actually strong; I had to use all my willpower to remain there.  Still, I laughed out loud in case anyone could hear me, see me from their window.  They should think nothing scared me. The opposite would only encourage them to torment me more. The water was cold.  It was autumn and I shivered.  It had rained first.  Rain almost always preceded the high water. Pelting down like pebbles.  So I was soaked already.  But then the rain stopped and the sea spray drenched me further, in a different way.  In that hungry, gulping, killing way.  The waves climbed, even as the wind eased.  That’s when it pressed against me – a smooth slither – around my legs, between them.  I’d never seen such a large eel.  I grabbed with both hands, blindly.  And came up with a thrashing, wild tail.  I held tight.  This was big enough to make a stew that could feed all of us. We struggled and I fell, under the swirling water, off the fondamenta, into depths over my head.  I held tight, though.  I could have held on and still climbed back up onto the rock wall, I know I could have.  But the eel made me let him go.  He cried.  The saddest cry I’d ever heard, all underwater.  So I released him.

Dark Shimmer

Even if I cried now, no one would release me.  No one could.  The eel’s problem was simple.  Mine isn’t.

Water.  Water is the great irony of the islands of this lagoon.  None of us have an easy source of sweet water.  Every campo, every private courtyard, has its cistern, to catch rain.  But if it doesn’t rain and doesn’t rain, we stare in thirst at the sea. As a woman, moved to Venice, I was supposed to stay at home, issuing forth only in a gondola to a public event or a private party.  But, of course, who could bear rules?  I remember a visit to the palazzo of the Mocenigo family.  I was sickly by that time.  In a burst of coughs, I convinced Antonin to pull over the gondola.  I scrambled out, all hunched over, and stumbled through a low stone archway.  It was high noon, but the archway led into a covered patio blocked from the sun.  Dark and wet as early night.  The damp soothed my raw throat.  It patted my cheeks and made me feel calm for a moment, relaxed.  Beyond the covered patio was an open-air patio.  With a cistern, of course.  A man had opened the lid and prepared to drop something in.  Something wrapped in wool.  A hand flopped from it – a human hand.  It wasn’t just the corpse that squeezed all the air from my lungs, it was the threat of a polluted well.  It could ruin the families around it.  It was poison.  “Use the canal,” I screeched.  He could have run at me, dagger drawn.  But I was hidden in the shadows – I might have been anyone.  I might have been several.  He hesitated, then hoisted the corpse over his shoulder, shut the cistern lid, and disappeared down an alley out the other side of the small campo.

I was a hero twice.  Maybe water brought out the best in me.

Now let fire kill the worst.


About Donna:

Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children’s and YA fiction.

Donna Jo has five children. She dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist. She loves to garden and bake bread.

At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, “Taxi!” to make the neighbors wonder. But dear dear Taxi died in 2009.

She lives outside Philadelphia. She received her BA in mathematics in 1970 and her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures in 1973, both from Harvard University, then did a postdoctoral year in Linguistics at MIT. She has since taught linguistics at Smith College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Swarthmore College. It was at UM that she earned tenure (in 1981) and became a full professor (in 1984). She has held visiting positions at the University of Queensland (Australia), the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and Capital Normal University of Beijing (China), as well as lectured at the University of Sydney (Australia), Macquarie University (Australia), the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa). In the area of linguistics she has authored five books (one of which is being translated into Korean), co-authored four (one of which is in Italian), edited one, and co-edited four (with a fifth in press), ranging from theoretical linguistics to practical matters in language structure and use, including matters of interest to d/Deaf people. She has held grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation.

You can visit Donna around the web here: Website | Facebook

Want to read more from Donna Jo Napoli?

Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale HiddenZelBeastSirenaBoundHush: An Irish Princess' TaleSpinnersDaughter of VeniceThe SmileStones in WaterThe Magic CircleBreathThree DaysSong of the MagdaleneThe WagerThe King of Mulberry StreetThe Great God PanAlligator BayouNorthSkinDark Shimmer


Dark Shimmer

Available September 8, 2015 from Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House

About this Book:

Set in medieval Venice, this captivating fairy tale retelling by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli explores belonging, beauty, and the transformative power of love through the eyes of a teenage girl. Dolce has grown up hidden away on an island in a lagoon. She is a giant, a freak, tormented by everyone but her loving mother. She spends her time learning the valuable secret of making mirrors. Following a tragedy, Dolce swims away and lands on an island where people see her as normal, even beautiful. Marin, a kind widower, and his little daughter bring Dolce to live with them in their grand palazzo. Eventually, Dolce and Marin marry. She secretly continues to make mirrors, not realizing that quicksilver endangers her . . . and so evil begins in innocence.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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2 Responses to “Deadly Destinations: Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli

  1. Elizabeth HolmeNo Gravatar

    Ya… The concept of this one sounds absolutely amazing but I’m not sure how I would feel about visiting lol Read the book HECK YES!! Actually go there… Not so much. Thank you so much for the chance.

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  2. Katherine AdamsNo Gravatar

    This book sounds like I need to read it! I am not sure if I would visit though because it might be terrifying

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