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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Donna Russo Morin's historical novel The Flames of Florence: Da Vinci's Disciples - Book Three is set in Renaissance Florence. Viviana is a founding member of da Vinci's Disciples, talented women artists with Leonardo da Vinci as their mentor. Florence is in political and religious turmoil as the Medici family's rule ends. The times turn dangerous for Viviana and all artists as the fiery Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola preaches against all forms of art. Viviana puts into action a plan to save Florence's treasured art. With Leonardo's help, the Disciples replace original works of art with counterfeits and smuggle the originals out of Florence. Nevertheless, many great works are destroyed by Savonarola in the "Bonfire of the Vanities." Tensions rise higher as Savonarola defies the Pope's interdicts.
I enjoyed reading Donna Russo Morin's The Flames of Florence: Da Vinci's Disciples - Book Three because at the heart it is a story of courage and determination. The women believe deeply and passionately in art as essential to the soul. They risk their lives to protect Florence's treasured art. I liked Morin's use of dialogue to show love and friendship between the women, their camaraderie, differences, and arguments. I liked the way Morin brings into the novel the artists’ families and historical figures like Leonardo and Brother Francesco to reveal more about the lives of the Disciples. I enjoyed Morin's descriptions of the studio settings, of how the women work together, of how deeply Leonardo cares for them as artists and for their safety. A well-crafted and richly imagined historical story.