Book Review – The Colour Storm by Damian Dibben

I first heard of this book from a wonderful friend of mine, whom I met on Bookstagram but can now say is a true friend after meeting her in real life. I can’t deny that the first thing which attracted me to this book was the cover, I mean seriously, look at it. It is a work of art in its own right. But, after reading the blurb and discovering it was set in Italy, I was further drawn to it.

Anyone that knows me, knows I love all things Italian, especially the food, and the fact that this is set in a place I have always wanted to visit, Venice, made it just that much better.

The Colour Storm is set during the Italian renaissance, a time of art and creativity but also violence and treason. The main protagonist, Giorgione Barbarelli, or Zorzo to his friends is an artist trying to make a living doing what he does best, painting. But competition is rife which means his life and livelihood is often hanging on by a thread. He even resorts to pawning his relative’s ring to make ends meet.

However, he soon hears about a legend, the Prince Orient, which is supposedly a colour like no other, found in a mine owned by a wealthy businessman. If only he could get this colour, he knows his life would be set. But, when he goes to the house he meets his wife, Sybille instead, a quiet, seemingly timid woman. Once he has won a commission to paint a portrait of his wife, he thinks he is on course to acquiring the sought-after colour. Instead, he finds himself in a conspiracy of treachery, abuse and underlying currents of a bigger threat.

This book is set during the troubling times of the plague, so not only are we given an insight into renaissance Italy but also at the effect this disastrous illness caused and the path of chaos it left in its wake.

Zorzo is an interesting character, I like how passionate he is for his art and how far he is willing to go to reach his goals. However, we are shown his weaknesses which often betray him and gets him into trouble at times. He is a complex character, brought to life with monologues which at time feel almost Shakespearean in their manner and tone.

The aspect of this book which really wowed me was the description and use of colour. In many novels you may read about a red dress or a blue coat. But, in this the colour ascends simplicity and is brought to life with such stunning imagery and description. As you read the novel these colours almost jump out at you like a beautiful rainbow, which is testament to how vivid the author’s description is. I could go on so much about how exquisite the use of colour is in this book, but all I will say is that the way it is used brings everything to life in…well…. vivid colour. I will leave you with this quote to show you what I mean.


From light and burnt ochre , magenta, lead white and a touch of cerulean blue, he mixes a series of skin tones and starts applying them to the canvas, in blocks that mark the facets of her form where the light strikes them…


If you are interested in books set in the Venice renaissance and enjoy your art you will love this book. It was a joy reading about the greats including the incredible Leonardo Da Vinci. If you are an art fan, check this out!!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – a beautifully descriptive read with prosaic monologues and exquisite imagery

The colour storm is out tomorrow!!

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