Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti (tr. Ekin Oklap) #BookReview #BlogTour


In a quiet village surrounded by centuries-old woods and the imposing Italian Alps, a series of violent assaults take place. Police inspector and profiler Teresa Battaglia is called back from the city when the first body is found in the woods, a naked man whose face has been disfigured and eyes gouged out. 

Teresa quickly realises that the killer intends to strike again, and soon more victims are found - all having been subjected to horrendous mutilations. When a new-born baby is kidnapped, Teresa's investigation becomes a race against the clock... 

But Teresa is also fighting a different kind of battle: a battle against her own body, weighed down by age and diabetes, and her mind, once invincible and now slowly gnawing away at her memory...

'Something devastating has taken place here in these mountains. Something that requires all my investigative abilities. My name is Teresa Battaglia, I am a police chief inspector, specialised in profiling, and I walk through hell every day. It's not my gun, nor my uniform: my real weapon is my mind.

Yet my mind is failing me. Not my body, weathered by the passing of time, nor my tormented heart.

My name is Teresa Battaglia, I have a secret that I dare not reveal even to myself, and for the first time in my life I am afraid.'

It's such an honour to be opening the blog tour for Flowers Over The Inferno today, huge thanks to Ilaria Tuti, Virginia Woolstencroft from W&N and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel received through NetGalley.

Flowers Over The Inferno opens with an eerie scene in Austria in 1978. A mountain lake said to exhale sinister murmurs and a crumbling old building enveloped by fog is chilling enough but it's inside the orphanage where the real evil lurks, although the harrowing reality of what has been concealed there isn't revealed until much later in the book. The story then moves over the border to a remote village in the Friulian mountains in Italy in the present day. A young boy is eager to meet up with his friends but he recalls his mother's caution that the forest is no place for children when he realises someone is hiding in the dark, watching him. This ominous beginning soon becomes even darker when the body of a local man is found in disturbing circumstances. Viciously beaten and with his eyes gouged out but with traps around his body to protect it; the police are baffled, particularly when they discover the victim's clothes on a wooden effigy nearby. Readers are introduced to Superintendent Teresa Battaglia at almost the same time as Inspector Massimo Marini who has been assigned to the squad but makes a terrible first impression. He quickly learns that Teresa Battaglia is not a woman to suffer fools gladly but despite being a mercurial boss she commands fierce loyalty from her team.
Flowers Over The Inferno is the first book in a trilogy featuring Teresa Battaglia and I can't wait to read more because she is a wonderful protagonist. She is in her sixties and is becoming increasingly aware of her physical and mental limitations. She has diabetes and is a little overweight but it is her failing mind which is concerning her more. Mental deterioration is a terrifying prospect for anybody but particularly so for Teresa as she is an accomplished profiler who relies strongly on her sharp and insightful mind and excellent analytical skills. Her inner turmoil certainly adds a fascinating dimension to her character but what I found especially refreshing is that in a world where women are supposed to be likeable, she is frequently irascible, demanding and rude. There's a telling scene about halfway through the book where Marini has a conversation with two other officers who discuss how it's hard for her to be a woman in power, how she has to continually prove that she is in control and not about to collapse. She needs to be seen as a person, not as a woman and accepting help means she risks being considered weak by others. However, she inspires devotion among her colleagues and as we learn more about her past it's clear that her strength isn't limited to her shrewd tenacity and she is able to draw on her own painful history in her interactions with those who need her empathy and perceptiveness. Her most private moments reveal yet more facets to her character and it's here we see her loneliness, self-doubt and dread for what the future holds.
The case Teresa and her team are investigating is bleakly compelling as further acts of gruesome brutality inevitably follow the first murder. Teresa's compassionate nature means she feels a sense of pity for the perpetrator arguing that there is a monster lying dormant in all of us but there are those whose monsters have been fed by trauma or abuse. The question about what makes someone evil and the nature of crime and retribution is an intriguing theme which becomes even more pertinent as the story progresses. Their investigation brings them into conflict with the residents of Travenì whose residents are reliant on tourism to survive and yet have a fear of outsiders. Centuries of isolation have meant the community regards visitors with suspicion and would rather their darkest secrets are kept safe - even if it means protecting a murderer - than open themselves up to inspection and judgement from those they consider to be interlopers. The suspicious, obstructive nature of the locals is exacerbated by the sense of oppressive claustrophobia created by the vivid descriptions of the stark beauty of the mountains and the feeling that something evil is amongst them is almost overwhelming.
Flowers Over The Inferno is a beautifully written, atmospheric novel with a complex plot which thoughtfully examines why someone might become a killer. The star of the show is undoubtedly Teresa Battaglia but she is joined by a superbly rendered cast of characters, not least the children in the book. The passages set in the past complement the events in the present day perfectly and add to the feeling of uneasiness which eventually gives way to horror and indeed sadness as the truth is finally realised. This terrific debut will appeal to anybody who enjoys intelligent crime novels with a touch of the Gothic; I absolutely loved it and look forward to the next book in the series with eager anticipation.

Flowers Over The Inferno will be published in the UK on 7th February 2019 by W&N and can be purchased from the following;
Amazon UK
Kobo UK

Don't forget to follow the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Ilaria Tuti lives in Friuli, in the far north-eastern part of Italy. Flowers Over The Inferno, her debut novel and the first book in the Teresa Battaglia trilogy, was a top 10 bestseller on publication and the biggest debut of 2018 in Italy. Rights for the novel have been sold in over 15 countries, making her one of the most internationally successful Italian authors of recent years.


  1. This sounds like a really good book - I must add it to my TBR!
    thanks for the review - I love discovering new books :D


    1. It's fab - I hope you love it too! Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment today! X


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