Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

The Book of Unholy Mischief takes place at the dawn of the Renaissance. In it, a book with immense power and many secrets is said to exist and people are dying to get their hands on it. When Chef Ferrero takes in young Luciano as an apprentice, Luciano not only learns his way around the kitchen, he also becomes aware that his mentor might know more about the book than he's letting on. He soon gets caught up in the mystery of it all. As Luciano performs his assigned duties, he witnesses a murder that leaves him unsettled as well as wary about whom to trust. Still, he does his best to unravel what's going on while protecting and helping those he cares about.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was presented in a perfect format for such a story. The adult Luciano related his childhood memories, which allowed for some interesting foreshadowing. I just adored how it all unfolded. The story grabbed me at the beginning and didn't let go until the very last page. I even thought about the characters when I wasn't reading the book.

I found it almost comical at times that the mysterious book caused such intense emotions even though there were many rumours about its contents and not many details. It didn't come across as unbelievable, though, considering the story took place a time when people were thirsty for knowledge and ready for change.

One very interesting (and controversial) part of the book was the suggestion that there was corruption at the root of Christianity. The book offered other ways to look at some of the stories in its history. I'm not going to get into those theories, but I will say that I found it extremely fascinating.

I was totally taken in by Luciano. He was naive at first, yet loveable. He didn't always do right the right thing (eavesdropping and stealing were among his transgressions), but he tried to remain loyal to Chef Ferrero, his friends on the street, and his love, Francesca. I also really liked Chef Ferrero. He took in and mentored Luciano and stood by his principles. I didn't care that much for Francesca, Marco or Domingo. They all seemed to want something from Luciano. Nevertheless, all of the characters were fun to read about.

The book is filled with great descriptions of food. They made my mouth water. Many of them sounded a bit modern, though; very much like dishes we'd eat now. I thought I heard/read somewhere that the food of that time was more rustic and very heavily seasoned because the meat/ingredients were so rank. Having said that, Newmark explains in the author's note that her Chef Ferrero is no ordinary chef and possessed knowledge that his contemporaries did not. Perhaps that why his food was so extraordinary.

Favourite quotes:
Much of life is waiting. It helps if you can do it with grace. (page 278).

New words:
doge (page 1): chief magistrate
imbroglios (page 12): mess, embarrassment
ignominious (page 27): humiliating
erudite (page 61): learned, knowledgeable
avuncular (page 68): resembling an uncle
tisanes (page 75): herbal beverage or tea
salubrious (page 190): healthy
pugnacious (page 201): aggressive
hirsute (page 201): hairy
obeisance (page 287): bob, genuflection
doublet (page 315): man's jacket with or without sleeves
halberds (page 315): long-handled medieval weapon

Highly recommended. I'd love to read another book by this author.

For more stops on this blog tour (reviews and interviews), please visit the Pump Up Your Book! website.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

For more information about the author, please visit Elle Newmark's website.

I'd like to thank the author and Tracee at Pump up Your Book! for this review copy.

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark, Washington Square Press (Simon & Schuster), ©2008. ISBN 9781416590576(format), 367p.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!