Fifteen-year-old Beppo, an indentured servant in Rome, is accused of murder. The only person who can help him is one of the most celebrated artists of his day—Caravaggio.
“This is the kind of story I would have devoured as a teen. Rich in historical detail, it has everything—adventure on the high seas, romance, and vivid descriptions of the teeming streets and luxurious palaces of seventeenth-century Italy.”
—GLEN HUSER, winner of the Governor General’s Award and author of The Runaway and The Elevator Ghost.
“The worlds of Renaissance Italy, fortress Malta and piracy in the Mediterranean are brought tolife in this page-turner. My favourite historical read of the year, so far.”
—SAVIOUR PIROTTA, winner of an Aesop Accolade for Firebird and author of Around the World in 80 Tales.
A 15-year-old indentured servant and a celebrated Renaissance artist make an unlikely duo in this slim historical novel. Beppo, sold into service to an unprincipled wine seller, is wrongfully accused of the murder of his master. As he flees Rome, he becomes involved with the hot-headed painter Caravaggio, who must flee the city himself after killing a man in a street fight. While on the run, Caravaggio continues to take commissions despite being a wanted man, and Beppo acts as his servant and apprentice. Beppo’s transformation from downtrodden urchin to eventual man of fortune is a bit far-fetched, but there is plenty of action and romance within the book to distract the reader from that. And considering some of the indignities which Beppo suffers, it is churlish to begrudge him his bounty. A historical note at the end provides further information about the life and career of Caravaggio and allows the author to point out where narrative liberties were taken for the benefit of the story.
— Kara Dean
Part of “Kirkus reviews stars and recommendations” 2016
“Late Renaissance Italy comes to life in this upper-middle-grade novel featuring the painter Caravaggio and a young friend..”
— Kirkus Review, Feb 2016
“Mark David Smith displays considerable artistry in his smooth blending of the politics, technology and customs of 17th century Italia to make a compelling tale…Caravaggio: Signed in Blood quietly educates while keeping readers on the edges of their chairs. Highly Recommended.”
–****/4, CM Magazine, Jan 2015
“Set in Italy at the beginning of the 17th century, this first novel by Port Coquitlam, B.C. author Smith has plenty of information about the famous artist Caravaggio — both about his important commissions and his mercurial temperament…juvenile readers, especially those who enjoy hearing of sword fights and pirates, will appreciate this book.”
—Winnepeg Free Press, Dec 2014
“Once I started reading, I had great difficulty setting it aside….a fast-paced, dangerous, and ever-changing adventure.”
—Sal’s Fiction Addiction, Mar 2015
“In his fast-paced debut teen adventure novel Caravaggio: Signed in Blood, Burnaby English teacher Mark Smith picks up the story of Caravaggio’s tempestuous life just before Caravaggio kills a man in a street fight.”
–BC Bookworld, Spring 2015