AvidReaderDianna, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by AvidReaderDianna)
THE BOOK OF UNHOLY MISCHIEF: A NOVEL was exciting and intriguing from the first page to the last. The setting was mysterious and full of lovely nooks and crannies for the plot to explore and take advantage of. The plot twisted continually, creating questions upon questions for the reader. And the wonderful information concerning food and recipes made my mouth water and intensified a desire for personally untried spices and concoctions. Likewise, the characters were colorful, some inviting, some repelling, but all so interesting and perfectly designed to support a plot which seemed not only plausable, but so captivating I couldn't put the book down. While I would not want to have lived in this setting, I loved fantasizing about how the "wisdom" of mankind might have been preserved and passed on through the ages too. If you like "history," travel, food, interesting people, plots you cannot figure out too far ahead of time, read THE BOOK OF UNHOLY MISCHIEF: A NOVEL by Elle Newmark.
katknit, February 7, 2009 (view all comments by katknit)
Venice in the early Renaissance was a perilous in the extreme. Innocent or guilty, prominent or poverty stricken, an individual could be destroyed in the blink of an eye, if it suited the aims of the politically powerful. The age of scientific enlightenment was dawning, but superstition and “heresy” still abounded under the iron rule of the church. Luciano, a street urchin, is offered a rare opportunity to transform his life by the chef of the doge, who is not merely a culinary master. Chef Ferraro is one of the Guardians, a network of educated men who are living and dying to preserve priceless knowledge that church and government are eager to obliterate. Together, Ferraro and Luciano undertake the perilous task of preserving this knowledge and denying it to the autocrats.
The Book of Unholy Mischief is chock full of mystery, intrigue, hope, and violence. It is also an argument for “free thinking”, in such a way that the religious sensibilities of some readers will be offended. Those who can approach it with open mind will discover much to enjoy: vivid characters, food for thought, great atmosphere and period detail, an appreciation for humanistic values. Life in the kitchen of the doge’s palace is portrayed so expressively that the mouth waters. While the plot sometimes loses its tension, its underlying message, that true magic lies not in sorcery but in learning, is beautifully conveyed.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Luciano, the wily hero of Newmark's entertaining first novel, is only a street urchin when the doge of Venice's chef finds him, but once dragged into the kitchen as an apprentice, he discovers more bubbling than boiling water. While the town is in an uproar over the rumor of an ancient book containing magical potions and lessons on alchemy, Luciano pines away for a girl and learns the basics of chopping, sweeping and eavesdropping. As he and his maestro become friendlier, Luciano begins to learn that there's more to his teacher than a garden of strange plants and a box of spices. Newmark does a fine job of building suspense and keeping the novel barreling along, and her knowledge of and affection for 15th-century Venice adds charm to this nicely told adventure yarn." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Newmark's transcendent debut follows a penniless orphan in Renaissance Venice as he is swept up from the streets and into a world of immeasurable passion and power on a journey that leads not only to betrayal and mystery, but also to love.
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