The Bite

Original title: Il morso

Publication Date:

May 2017



Original language and publisher

Italian | Neri Pozza


Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

The Bite

Original title: Il morso

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch rights.


Sicily, 1848: Lucia Salvo suffers from a serious form of epilepsy that everybody takes for madness and that no one, at that time, can recognize and cure. Sent to Palermo by her mother, who hopes to improve her family’s chances thanks to a marriage of convenience, Lucia works as a servant for noble families; she’s not stupid at all, but they misunderstand her epileptic attacks and they read her crisis as symptoms of mental illness. That’s why they decide to use her to send secret messages to people in jail. In 1848 Sicily is a volcano about to explode and Lucia seems to be the perfect instrument for conspiring without being caught.

Trapped in a role that does not belong to her, obliged to appear as someone she is not, fearful of her unconscious moments, Lucia becomes an unaware heroine and a protagonist of the Revolts of 1848, contributing to jailbreaks and helping the revolution to begin. In prisons, Lucia also encounters love: a tragic and impossible love. After having been chosen by Sicilian aristocracy as a scapegoat, she is judged by a “Court of Madness” and condemned to reclusion in the Real Casa dei Matti, a prison for mentally sick patients in Palermo. Only there, at the end of the novel, she finally finds the peace she has desperately desired throughout her entire life and also the freedom: there, she is no longer ashamed about her epileptic attacks and she can write her story on the walls of her room.

Il morso is based on the real story of Lucia Salvo, “a siracusana” (the woman from Syracuse). With a sophisticated and fast-paced writing style, it recounts a unique, fragile and determined female character who lives in an archaic, harsh, suspicious and superstitious Sicily.

About Simona Lo Iacono’s previous novel, Le streghe di Lenzavacche, finalist at Strega Award 2016:

“A writer of charms and spells”. Avvenire

“Le streghe di Lenzavacche, an authentically Sicilian novel, is supported by an evocative style enriched by a sense of imminent fate”. La Repubblica