Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Serpent Rising by Victor Acquista - Book Tour

Serena Mendez is haunted and she is hunted…


By Victor Acquista

Serena Mendez is haunted and she is hunted…

… Haunted by trauma—terrified and scarred as a young child, when a secret initiation into an ancient order of Lightbringers went horribly wrong. Unaware of the power latent in her blood, she is haunted by a life out of sync with her true identity. At twenty-one, she is abrasive, jobless, in debt, and addicted to sedatives. Haunted by her past, she knows nothing of her destiny.

… Hunted by an enemy—ruthless and powerful, a Brotherhood that has been pitted against the Luminarian Sects for thousands of years. An ancient struggle continues—The War of the Two Serpents—a saga extending back to the dawn of civilization, to the time of the second breaking, when the elite sought dominion over the masses. Those serving truth and light opposed these dark forces. In return they were persecuted, burned as witches, suppressed and nearly defeated by the powers of darkness.

But the flame was not extinguished.

An old Navajo dream-walker had a plan to open the seven chakras mystically binding Serena’s power. To fulfill her true destiny, to unleash the latent power within her blood, Serena journeys to six continents where she uncovers the truth of who she is, and what she must do.

A warrior stirs, a Lightbringer. She is Serena Mendez. She is awakening. She is a Candelaria…

Serpent Rising is a story of unfulfilled destiny, discovery, transformation, and courage to embrace the truth.

  “Author Victor Acquista has opened a pandora’s box of adventure in his new breath-taking thriller, Serpent Rising. I was swept away from the first page in this wonder-filled, mystical, and compelling novel. Cleverly plotted with a female protagonist, Serena Mendez, that is truly original in ancestry, yet very 21st century-real, with personal problems that she manages to set aside to pursue the very truth of her being. We join her in this a non-stop rush that mixes equal parts of  history, myth, and lore that I didn’t want to ever end! I’m already looking forward to more of Serena again and again. Acquista is the obvious heir apparent to the globe-trotting, can’t-be-put-down-novels such as The DaVinci Code and The House Of Secrets. Move over Dan Brown and Brad Meltzer, you have deserving company at your table with Serpent Rising!”

— Patrick Kendrick, award-winning author of American Ripper: The Enigma Of America’s Serial Killer Cop. 


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Impact…crash…darkness. The bedside table lamp and shattered light bulb lay on the floor, but Serena remained unmoved, without will or inclination to clean up the mess. She stared at the ceiling of her tiny efficiency apartment, lit solely by the eerie neon-green from the alarm clock’s LED. The glass fragments glittered, taunting her to get out of bed. Instead, she pondered the much larger mess of her life. She lay still, in a familiar paralysis of apathy. Somehow, a glimmer of hope broke through her complacence; she reached over and forced herself to set the alarm. Tomorrow she had another job interview. Desperation crowded out the apathy. Constricted by overwhelming inner and outer darkness, Serena’s breath became shallow. Her dry mouth and mounting anxiety muted her scream at life’s injustice into a muffled croak. Tomorrow would come…nothing would change. 
Survival. A day without struggle followed by a night of peaceful rest—why did achieving this seem so elusive? Agitated, she threw the bedcovers aside. How much longer could this torture go on? Awake and staring overhead, she felt every bit as broken as the glass shards. Her light within had all but extinguished itself, not unlike the fragile bulb. Could tomorrow be her first step out from the deep dark hole that hollowed her insides? Tomorrow she had another job interview. She double-checked the alarm setting. Serena’s fingertips ached as she desperately clung to the possibility of change. 
 Reaching into her bedside drawer, she randomly pulled out some meds and dry-swallowed two pills. Serena didn’t look to check what they were; she kept four or five different sleep meds stashed there. Not that it mattered. None of them worked. Serena needed to speak to Dr. Jenkins about that. Sleep did not come easily to the twenty-one-year-old woman afflicted with anxiety, plagued by PTSD, her life in shambles. 
 Sometimes it seemed better to stay awake. Steadily worsening vivid nightmares had been infiltrating her dreams. She tossed and turned, trying to stave off the inevitable, trying to deceive herself that tonight the meds would work. Ensnared between apathy and hope, Serena nestled into a crevice of momentary comfort. Her breathing slowed; the cadence of soft snores interrupted the green stillness. 
 It felt cold in the cave. Even lying on the sleeping rug, the rock floor was hard. She shivered, more from fear than the cold. Why did her great aunt, her shibízhí insist she sleep here alone tonight? She remembered her shibízhí saying with no moon the cave would be black. Serena blinked, but it didn’t matter whether her eyes were open or closed; she couldn’t tell the difference. Repeating and following her aunt’s instructions, she crawled to the edge of the pool then stood up to her knees in the still water. Keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open. Her shibízhí had said that was the most important thing, not to close her eyes. But she couldn’t see anything. She wanted to be brave; she didn’t want to disappoint her shibízhí, but she was scared. It was so dark. 
That’s when she saw something. It was just a blur, a smudge of light. Something glowed and slowly took shape—long and curved, it moved toward her. Immersed in blackness, water up to her knees, the creature moved closer. Wavelets rippled against her small trembling body. What was it? The creature glowed with the shape-shifting form of something. She strained her eyes. It looked like a… “No!” she screamed, shutting her eyes and not daring to move. “Shibízhí, help me!” There was no response, and then it touched her skin, curling around her leg. 
Serena bolted up, heart pounding and sweating as she reached to turn on the bedside table lamp, but the broken light with its shattered bulb still lay on the floor. Partly yelling, partly sobbing, “Damn dream! Goddamned dream! Goddamned aunt! Eleven years and you still haunt me!” 
She steadied herself by taking two more pills. Wide awake, lying in near total darkness and still terrified, she tried to fall back to sleep. Jaws clenched tight, trying in vain to stop her teeth from chattering; she shivered, gooseflesh covering her arms held close against her chest. It touched me. It touched me. That’s never happened before…



By Victor Acquista


            The word “shaman” originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. It can be translated as, “one who knows.” The word usage has spread far beyond these Siberian roots and is broadly applied to practitioners of shamanism across many different ethnic and cultural groups.

            The specific types of activities and the characteristics of practitioners of shamanism vary among different cultures but often include the following:

·         Healing rituals and practices

·         Use of botanicals and entheogens (As noted in Wikipedia: “An entheogen is a psychoactive substance that induces alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior for the purposes of engendering spiritual development in sacred contexts.”)

·         Divination, communication with spirits

·         Accessing altered states of consciousness themselves and/or guiding others into these altered states

            Among many peoples, shamans function as priests/priestesses, wisdom keepers and holders of sacred knowledge and traditions, sages, and oral historians. Evident in these characterizations, shamans function in many important ways and are usually respected and sometimes feared. In some ways, they seem to have powers and abilities beyond those of ordinary men and women.

            The purpose of this brief blog post is not to provide a comprehensive exploration of shamanism so much as to highlight some of the features and attributes associated with shamans and the roles they play in their respective societies and cultures.

            As characters in stories, shamans often play a crucial role in plot and story line. They are sometimes featured as main characters but often act as influencers of other characters and may have a significant impact on the character arc of another figure in the story.

            In my novel, Serpent Rising, there are three different characters who meet the description of shaman. Serena’s Aunt Ooljee is a Navajo shaman. She is a dream-walker, a possible shape shifter, a healer, and has some powers of divination. I never provide much description about what is in the pouch she gives to Serena to burn in the cave, but it likely induces an altered state of consciousness accompanying the chakra opening.

            The Australian shaman, a Koradji in his indigenous Aboriginal language, is a wanderer of both the spirit realm and the dream world where he communicates with spirits. His chakra opening ritual of Serena’s third chakra involves drumming and rhythmic dancing, both known to induce altered states of consciousness.

            Finally, the Peruvian hermit is also a shaman. He is a shape shifter who navigates two realities (the seen and the unseen), a dream interpreter, and a master at using hallucinogens to guide both Serena and Bryson in experiencing transformational altered consciousness.

            Interested readers can learn more about shamanism by researching on the web. There is quite a lot of information readily available. I hope the brief highlights I have offered about the characters in my novel help you to better understand what they represent and how their roles are authentically portrayed. Although they each utilize different shamanic tools, they all help to advance Serena along in her journey of self-discovery and transformation.


Victor Acquista has become an international author and speaker following his careers as a primary-care physician and medical executive. He is known for “Writing to Raise Consciousness.” His multi-genre works include fiction and nonfiction and often incorporate social messaging to engage readers in thought-provoking themes.

He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, the Florida Writers Association, Writers Co-op, and is a Knight of the Sci-Fi Roundtable.

When not pondering the big questions in life and what’s for dinner, he enjoys gardening and cooking. He lives with his wife and dog in Ave Maria, Florida.






  1. Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by. First off, I want to thank my tour host, Jazzy Book Reviews, for featuring my book and inviting to post a guest blog.. I'll be posting a variety of interesting items to share with you about "Serpent Rising" including backstory and some videos. I'll follow this thread and respond to reader comments and questions.

  2. One of the things I'm especially proud of is the Pod-Log video author entries that contain interesting backstory. Each is about 5 minutes long. Here's the playlist link:

  3. And here is the list of topics covered in each of the Pod-Log entries:
    1. Entry 6.18.20: What is a Pod-Log? Meaning of series title, “The Saga of Venom and Flame
    2. Entry 6.24.20: Book cover symbol explained. Three layers of meaning to the title, “Serpent Rising”.
    3. Entry 7.1.20: DESTINY–Mythological roots and the relevance to Serena’s life and apparent dysfunction.
    4. Entry 7.7.20: CANDELARIA–Who are these Luminarians that carry the flame of truth?
    5. Entry 8.8.20: THE HERO’S JOURNEY–The narrative structure described by Joseph Campbell as it applies to Serena Mendez.
    6. Entry 9.6.20: SHAMANISM–What is a shaman and what role do they play in Serena’s journey?

  4. I also think reader groups and book clubs will appreciate the discussion questions I've prepared. The same is true of individual readers as the discussion questions stimulate you to think about the novel to probe the depths of meaning a little further. That will hopefully enhance your reading experience. Here is a link to the discussion questions:

  5. I narrated the opening scene along with some special sound effects in this podcast episode which has had over 12K views. What do you think of that SCREAM?

  6. I created the main character, Serena Mendez, as a flawed heroine. She must confront parts of herself that she has been running away from her entire life in order to embrace her true destiny as a Candelaria. Candelarias are a sect of Luminarian Lightbringers. They are champions of truth in the great War of the Two Serpents. Learn more about Serena in this character interview:

  7. Here is a quick 60-second trailer. Check out the voice for Serena Mendez. Awesome! Can you guess who it is?

  8. I've been fortunate to get some really fine endorsements of the novel. Here are a few selected blurbs:

    "Buckle up for a globe-hopping mission filled with suspense and self-discovery." - Ray Flynt, Award-winning author of Brad Frame mysteries

    "...a fascinating blend of mystery, thriller and the supernatural. A richly drawn cast of engaging and sympathetic characters transport the reader into an intriguing and rewarding journey." - Gary Morgenstein, author of A Mound Over Hell

    "Victor Acquista weaves a gripping tale of myth and metaphor as we follow Serena's global quest to discover her true identity...the chase by evil forces leaves us breathless, yet gasping for more..." - Deborah Shlian, MD, MBA, award-winning author of medical thrillers

    "Victor Acquista's terrific new novel defies genres: it's a techno-mythological thriller-cum-mystical travelogue, with a sassy heroine and a soulful geek at its heart. A Da Vinci Code for the digital age." - JJ Amaworo Wilson, author of Damnificados

    "Author Victor Acquista has opened a pandora's box of adventure in his new breathtaking thriller, Serpent Rising. I was swept away from the first page in this wonder-filled, mystical, and compelling novel. Cleverly plotted...Acquista is the obvious heir apparent to the globe-trotting, can't-be-put-down-novels such as The DaVinci Code and The House Of Secrets. Move over Dan Brown and Brad Meltzer, you have deserving company at your table with Serpent Rising!" - Patrick Kendrick, award-winning author of American Ripper: The Enigma Of America's Serial Killer Cop


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.