Agenda Bookshop Book Signing
The Malta Independent – August 2012

Marthese Fenech, the young Canada-born authoress of Eight Pointed Cross will be signing copies of her massive epic set in the exciting days when the Order of St John was in constant war with corsairs and Turks, today at Agenda Bookshop, Republic Street Valletta between 10 and 12 a.m.

Based on extensive research carried out in various countries, Eight Pointed Cross is a story of heroism, love, hate, intrigue, slavery, religious oppression, and naval and land battles, in which the protagonists, the siblings Domenicus and Katrina Montesa, face many an exciting moment as the story takes the reader to several exotic settings.

Eight Pointed Cross has been enthusiastically met both by critics and general readers and has been one of the most popular novels this summer, enjoying a warm response particularly from tourists.

Franco Davies, an expert in Hospitaller history, has described the novel as ‘a truly enjoyable read’ and praised its intimate accurateness to the period while Karen Connelly, author of The Lizard Cage, has drawn attention to its ‘crystal-clear descriptive language’ and acclaimed it as ‘An impressive debut!’. Julie Danaylov, the CEO of a cirque company, has called the novel ‘an extraordinary book’.

Eight Pointed Cross is Ms Fenech’s first novel and in it she shows her admiration for the chequered history of the island of her fathers.

Marthese Fenech was born the youngest of five to Maltese parents in Toronto. She has travelled extensively across four continents, and in the course of researching for Eight-Pointed Cross, toured Malta, Turkey, Italy, France – a wealth of fascinating places that introduced her to her characters and their cultures in a most authentic way.

When she was twelve, she lived in Malta for six months, enrolling in an all-girls private school run by nuns. She lasted three days before getting kicked out for talking too much. Back in Toronto, she started her own business recording, editing, and selling bootleg heavy metal concerts. While in high school, she took a position with a popular seafood chain as its first female dishwasher. She later worked with special needs children and adults, where witnessing small miracles on a daily basis was part of the job.

A former kickboxing instructor, Marthese currently teaches high school English and history. She speaks fluent Maltese and French and is learning Italian. As part of her research for Eight-Pointed Cross, she took up archery, and ended up accidentally becoming a certified instructor. She has a passion for adventure, photography, running, music, snowboarding, and yoga.

Reviews

“Crystal-clear descriptive language … Ms. Fenech has recreated the compelling world of the Montesa family of Malta and the Knights of St. John as though she time-travelled back to the sixteenth century to do her research. An impressive debut!”

— Karen Connelly, author of The
Lizard Cage


"I believed every minute of it."

— Carol Rasmussen, former book review editor at Library Journal


"Eight Pointed Cross has all the ingredients that I consider importan in a novel: a gripping plot, engaging, believable characters, stunning description, violence, love, sex, remarkable psychological insight, historical detail… The first English literary critic, Sir Phillip Sidney, wrote that the purpose of literature was to teach and to delight. I learned much from Eight Pointed Cross. And the internal struggles of characters such as Augustine and Franco lend depth and substance to the characterization. A more recent literary giant, William Faulkner, in his speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, opined that the only thing worth writing about is the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself. You, Ms. Fenech, have passed both of these tests with flying colours."

— John Heighton, reader for the Porcupine's Quill