EVENT 25/07: Anna Mazzola & Sonia Velton (Portishead)

Regular price £5.50


Join us for a very special evening with Anna Mazzola and Sonia Velton as we discuss their latest books, The Book Of Secrets and The Nightingale's Castle, and the danger and dark secrets that weave throughout both.

Thursday 25th July 2024

Max Minerva's, 28-30 High Street, Portishead

Doors at 19:00. Discussion at 19:30. Finish at 20:45.

£5.50 ticket only
£9.99 ticket with The Book Of Secrets (paperback)
£18.99 ticket with The Nightingale's Castle (hardback)  
£30.00 tickets with both books
£1 Pay What You Can 
(Please only choose the PWYC tickets if you need to, they are limited and intended for those who really need them.)

You don't need to bring your ticket with you, we will have a list of names on the door. 


A writer of great variety and inventiveness. A haunting, complex work
The Times

Rome, 1659. Months after the plague has ravaged Rome, men are still dying in unnatural numbers, and rumour has it that their corpses do not decay as they should. The Papal authorities commission prosecutor Stefano Bracchi to investigate, telling him he will need considerable mettle to reach the truth. To the west of the Tiber, Girolama and her female friends are at work, helping other women with childbirths and foretelling their futures.

Elsewhere in the city, a young wife, Anna, must find a way to escape her abusive husband. But in a city made by men for men, there are no easy paths out. Stefano's investigation at the Tor di Nona prison will introduce him to horror, magic and an astonishing cast of characters.

He will be left wondering if certain deeds should remain forever unpunished... The Book of Secrets is inspired by real events that took place in 17th century Italy.


Moving, fascinating and haunting.. A mesmerising combination of gothic horror and elegant restraint
Francesca De Tores, author of Saltblood

Erzsébet Báthory, whose infamous place in history characterises her as the ‘Blood Countess’, was accused of the murder of over 600 peasant girls in Hungary, 1610. The Nightingale’s Castle tells the story of a woman fighting for her survival and the complicated, often cruel, household over which she presides.

In 1573, Countess Erzsébet Báthory gave birth to an illegitimate child. The infant, a girl, was swiftly bundled up and handed to a local peasant family to be brought up in one of the hamlets surrounding the Castle. Many years later, 15-year-old Boróka reluctantly leaves the safety of the only home she has ever known in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Trusted members of the countess’s household have been sent out to gather new serving girls, and the kindly old man who has taken care of Boróka for almost all her life knows that it is dangerous to turn them away.

Boróka struggles to find her place at Cachtice Castle: she is frightened of the countess’s reputation as an alleged murderer of young girls, and the women who run the castle are terrifyingly cruel. When plague comes into the heart of the castle, a tentative bond begins to form between Boróka and the Countess Báthory. But powerful forces are moving against a woman whose wealth poses such a threat to the king: can the countess really trust the women who are so close to her? And when the show trial begins against the infamous ‘Blood Countess’ where will Boróka’s loyalties lie?


Anna is the award-winning author of five historical crime or Gothic novels. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, won an Edgar Allan Poe award. Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in 18th century Paris, was shortlisted for two CWA Dagger awards and a Fingerprint Award, and nominated for the Dublin Literary award. Her fourth novel, The House of Whispers, a ghost story set in Fascist Italy, was a Sunday Times historical fiction novel of 2023. Her fifth historical novel, The Book of Secrets, is based on a real case from 17th century Rome and will be out on 21 March 2024. It is a Times Historical Book of the Month. Her first legal thriller will be published in 2025 under the name Anna Sharpe.

She is also a human rights and criminal justice solicitor working with survivors of crime. She lives in South London, with one husband, two children, a black cat and a snake.

Find Anna online at


Sonia Velton has been a solicitor in Hong Kong, a Robert Schuman Scholar in Luxembourg and spent eight years being an expat Mum of three in Dubai. She now lives with her children in Kent and is the author of three novels. Her writing has been short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, long-listed for the HWA Debut Crown and optioned for film. Her new book, The Nightingale’s Castle, was a Sunday Times Historical Fiction Pick of the Month for May.

Find Sonia online at