Heretics: A Love Story

General Fiction

By Mary Saracino

Publisher : Pearlsong Press

ABOUT Mary Saracino

Mary Saracino
Mary Saracino is the author of The Singing of Swans, a novel published by Pearlsong Press in October 2006. A native of Seneca Falls, NY who lived in Denver, CO for 12 years, she currently resides in Lafayette, CO. In addition to her work as a writer, Mary teaches creative writing classes a More...


In the 1480s, twin sister healers in a remote village in the mountainous Barbagia region of Sardinia encounter a heretic-obsessed Spanish priest.

Antonio Albóndiga is sent to Sardinia after mishaps in his homeland, and is eventually banished to the village of Orune. Half the villagers—including Sarda and Shardana—follow a pre-Christian religion, while the other half observe a makeshift version of Catholicism and paganism. 

Hate holds the priest's  heart hostage, and he scorns Sarda and Shardana's adherence to ancient ways. Despite their suspicions, the healers and their village attempt not only to accept the stranger but to transform him.

The novel was inspired by a trip author Mary Saracino took to Sardinia in 2004 as part of a Dark Mother Study tour led by Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum. We visited ancient ruins left by the island's earliest inhabitants, archeological museums that contained countless cultural and material artifacts, and Catholic churches in which the Black Madonna was venerated. Mary was deeply moved by the island's prehistoric memory of a time when the Divine Female, whom the Sardinians call La Dea Madre (God the Mother) was venerated. She was also struck by the culture's matrifocal sensibility and the ways in which members of the island's earliest communities would come together to collectively resolve issues. Mary is grateful to Norcroft, a writing retreat center for women (now defunct) for the gift of time and space and creative support. The first drafts of many of this novel's chapters were written there, in her writing room by the shores of Lake Superior.

 "Heretics: A Love Story belongs in the highest echelon of classic literary fiction insofar as it educates and enlightens while entertaining the reader....Mary Saracino combines acute psychological acumen with extensive knowledge of history to create a novel that will engross your mind, grip your heart and inspire your soul."

Sandra Shwayder Sanchez
author of The Secret of a Long Journey

"Heretics: A Love Story reminds me of Grazia DeLedda's Canne al Vento, a book by the Sardinian Nobel Prize winner who first brought the Barbagia to the world's attention in 1926. The stellar aspect of Saracino's novel is that she incorporates all the Afrocentrist research that is no longer able to be suppressed. This is an enormous enterprise to which this novel makes a great contribution because it is so well-written. Saracino has managed to put into a compelling story what she learned firsthand when she traveled to Sardinia in 2004—and she has supported that with a mountain of research! Her psychological acuity makes the characters come alive. This novel is the best attempt that comes to mind of weaving together both scholarship and story writing."

Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita, The California Institute of Integral Studies
author of The Future Has an Ancient Heart: Legacy of Caring, Sharing, Healing and Vision from the Primordial African Mediterranean to Occupy Everywhere 
& Dark Mother: African Origins & Godmothers