Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
252 Pages
Reviewed on 03/01/2020
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Author Biography

Ben Wyckoff Shore is the author of the historical fiction novel Terribilta, his first published work. Ben enjoys reading and writing about very flawed, very human characters and stories about rebellion and self-sacrifice. He likes all sorts of dogs but especially underdogs. Ben lives in Queens, NY with his wife Mariana. Ben has a B.A. from Tufts University and a Masters from Dartmouth College.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Some authors possess a very subtle but potent knack for continuously compelling their reader’s attention, a talent for plotting and presence that makes the avid reader almost unwittingly keep turning pages. Most assuredly, author Ben Wyckoff Shore possesses this particular knack, and his desperately good historical novel, Terribilita, demonstrates an invaluable storytelling talent right from the start. Undercurrents of passionately deep emotion underlie the almost matter-of-fact narration of an old Italian family, the Ferrandos, whose patriarchal head, an instantly impressive old war hero, proves his outsized worth way too early, then is gone; whose son, a fiery and impulsive heir, is eager to prove himself equal to the family name; and whose own son, a more sensitive creative type, has obediently gone off to sea for self-protection and to learn about the world.

It bears repeating: Ben Wyckoff Shore demonstrates impeccable storytelling skills in this perfectly-paced novel, Terribilita. These are in addition to his writing skills, which reflect a similar if more technically-based attention to detail. Plotting, pacing, timing, and organization of the storyline are flawless. Informative passages never detract from the story. Dialogue is pitch-perfect. Such observations, however, miss a much larger and more important point: Shore has told a most wonderfully engaging, powerfully propelled tale about family and romantic love, with bold adventures both on sea and land, during absolutely fascinating times, and in thoroughly exotic places. Including deftly inserted moments of understated but highly appreciated humorous relief. A story compelling enough to keep one turning the pages. What more pleasure could a reader want, except maybe a few more pages?

K.C. Finn

Terribilita is a work of historical fiction and family saga style drama which was penned by author Ben Wyckoff Shore. Written for adults due to its intense themes and some explicit language and violent content, the drama of the piece follows an Italian war hero who fought for unification, and the resulting life which he led and passed on to his descendants. Told over several generations, we meet his son and grandson as they too explore life by sea, by land and through military eyes, all in the harsh climate of the latter half of the nineteenth century. What results is a heartfelt and realistic tale of personal struggle and the role of violence in the lives of young men.

One of the things which I really enjoyed about this literary and high-quality novel was its cultural impact and atmosphere. The Italian heritage of the family is apparent throughout, with small details that give the family their heart and prestige, dating back to the grandfather and his history as a soldier. There’s a true sense of legacy as a strong emotional theme, and this carries into the lives of the descendants as they too discover that they must test their mettle against many enemies of the world, including pirates, militia, and the nature of society itself. In three generations, author Ben Wyckoff Shore keeps the story tight and well organized despite its spread and scope, and overall this control and mastery of storytelling makes Terribilita a powerful and emotive read that all literary, historical and family drama fans will devour.

Lesley Jones

Terribilita by Ben Wyckoff Shore is a historical tale of three generations of one family in the late 19th century in Genoa, Italy. The defiant behavior of Enzo Ferrando, son of an Italian war hero, brings danger to his family. His young son Lucca is sent to safety to work onboard a merchant ship, while Enzo travels to the African Horn to fight. While separated, neither father nor son knows the fate of the grandfather or each other. As many years pass, they must learn the value of forgiveness and bravery but also how violence and the need for revenge can have dire consequences. Will Enzo ever be reunited with his family or will his actions cause irreparable damage?

Terribilita by Ben Wyckoff Shore is such a captivating historical novel that I read it in just a few hours. The plot is so interesting, detailed and well researched that you feel transported to 19th-century Italy. I thought the relationships between the three generations of men were really heartwarming, and the love and respect they had for each other were enviable. I also thought Enzo dealt with his father's heroic reputation with pride and not bitterness. However, after his fight with Pasha, he utters the words, "I have lived all my life in the shade of a great oak, yearning for sunlight,” which spoke volumes to me about his true feelings. The development of Grace and Lucca's friendship was relayed perfectly and there are some definite moments that will bring a tear to your eye. Although the novel tells a gripping story of three generations of heroic men, I feel it also carries a message on the importance of family, forgiveness and the overpowering emotion of revenge and its consequences. Highly recommended.