The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark, for a foodie like me was an absolute delight for the senses along with treating me to a really good story with a bit of mystery woven in. Not to mention, how could you not love the cover on this novel? It is one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen in a long time and it was actually the first thing that attracted me to this book.
The story is about Luciano who, at the beginning of the novel is an orphan just trying to survive on the streets of Venice in 1498. One day while out trying to steal his latest meal, Luciano is stopped by Chef Ferrerro (Maestro to Luciano) who offers him a meal. Well there is no way that Luciano can turn down a free meal and while there he also gets a wash and some clean clothes. The Chef traces an outline of a birthmark on Luciano’s forehead but in a kindly way. Luciano has no idea that his life from that point on will be a completely different one and that Chef Ferrerro will play a huge part in it in so many ways.
Luciano becomes Chef Ferrerro’s apprentice. He is to learn the going’s on of the kitchen. This is a huge honor for a boy like him and he and the Maestro seem to form an instant bond. Luciano soon learns that there is a mysterious book that everyone is searching for. This book, among other things, is said to have the power to heal a person or offer immortality. Luciano believes that the book contains a love potion that will help him win over the girl of his dreams who is a nun named Francesca. His friend Marco from the streets wants this book. There is a reward for the book and that money can get the both he and Luciano to the New World. Luciano is conflicted though with his loyalty to both Marco and the Chef.
One will feel immediately drawn to Luciano. The first descriptions of him as a street urchin all the way to where he knew he wanted to make more of his life endeared him to me. I wanted him to succeed and learn. We can’t forget the Maestro though as he is also an interesting character. A man well versed in food and herbs with the knowledge to know how to put together certain concoctions to achieve what he wants such as taking a pair of men set to have an argument about something and turn them into snivelling messes instead. He is a man of honor, both to his profession and his family. However he is hiding a secret life as well; one that he hopes to groom Luciano for.
This book is beautifully written both in the descriptions of Venice and the food. The feelings of how food is such an important part of our lives and something we should take the time to truly savor. Or how food can evoke in us memories of other times like our childhood, for example. The author’s vivid descriptions of the wonderful dishes being prepared had my mouth watering and I felt I could see, smell and most importantly taste the dishes being described. In a word, I found this book delicious. It brought my senses alive. It made me want to grab a piece of fruit and truly savor the flavors that it would evoke in my mouth. I have to say that this book definitely leaves you hungry because all the food being prepared sounds so utterly divine.
There are several quotes in this book, too many to count but one of the very first that stood out to me and even by the end of the book was still clear in my mind is one that is near the beginning of the book and coincidentally enough even has something to do with the ending a little bit…
- ‘I remember that pomegranate well – the leathery red skin, the fleshy weight of it in my hand promising wine – sweet clusters of ruby fruit. As I lifted it off the pile, I imagined the satisfying crunch, the release of tangy perfume, the juices glazing my lips and running down my chin. Ah, that biblical fruit with its poignant umbilical tip, choice of the gods and food of the dead. I clasped it to my breast and ran.’ (pg 4)
I read The Book of Unholy Mischief for Elle Newmark’s Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour and I have to say a special thank you to her for the signed copy she sent to me. This is a book that will have a special place on my shelf and I can see myself reading it again one day just to experience again the beautiful writing and vivid descriptions of the dishes being prepared.
Please visit Elle Newmark’s website here and her blog here. In addition, you can view the book trailer on her website as well and that is here. The Book of Unholy Mischief can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada. Be sure to pop in tomorrow at Peeking Between the Pages as Elle will be visiting with a guest post.
Scrap girl says
You had my attention from the word 'foodie'. Like you, I love books that tease my tastebuds. The description of the pomegranite was fabulous. Definitely a book for me.
That sounds amazing! never thought a pomegranate could be so pictoresque and poetic at the ame time. I'll never look at them with the same eyes…Definitely a book I'd love to read!
I just love your reviews!
This book sounds so good! I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list. Great review!
I've already added this to my TBR list thanks to other fabulous reviews! Thanks!
Elizabeth Spann Craig says
Sounds wonderful! And tasty.
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen
I've read a few good reviews about this book… so I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the lovely review, Dar!
The book sounds interesting, strange cover that intrigues me, and it doesn't sound like something I have read before
I've heard some wonderful things about this… I want it! LoL
You wrote a beautiful review Dar!
This sounds like a wonderful book and as a foodie I am adding it to my wishlist. The writing sounds beautiful and just reading the quote about the pomegranate gave me a peek into the style of the book.
Dar…What a great review. I was never able to read this one (sadly, I did not try too hard). So happy you loved it. My Loss evidently.
Lovely review Dar! You have me wanting to run out and get it right now!
sounds very good dar!
its always great when the reader can really like a character like that.
the writing sounds wonderful, I need to read this one.
oh you got me. i am currently reading 'the fortune cookie' and its all about chinese food as well. leaves me hungry! 🙂
lovely vivid writing. i should try to read it.
cant wait for the guest post! 🙂
I loved this book too! The descriptions of the food were amazing.
I've heard a lot of good things about this book and think that I will have to add it to the TBR list. Great review!
I am waiting for this book to get added to my library catalogue. I think I will really enjoy it when I do get to read it!
My favorite part about this book was the food.
Woww! this book definitely is in my wish list now!
Thank you for the wonderful review! And the quote… I must say I never thought of a pomegranate like that!
A gorgeously tempting cover — sounds like a sumptuous read for the senses! I can imagine your distinct pleasure in reading this one, Dar.
Wow! The book sounds like such a treat!
When there's food involved I'm immediately drawn to the book. I believe I would love this one!
I'm drooling Dar–this book does sound absolutely delicious! I've seen the cover around a bit, and I agree it is gorgeous, but I didn't actually know anything about the book. I love Venice and I've read a few books set in the city–such a colorful culture! This one is definitely going on the list!
Any recipes included?? 🙂
Beth F says
Sounds like a super book for a foodie like me!
I'm doing this tour at the end of August and had to check my book to see if it's autographed and it is! I can't wait to read it after your wonderful review.
Hi Darlene, thank you for stopping by my blog and for adding me to your google reader. I added you to my blogroll:)
Have a nice day,
Thanks everyone for your comments on my review of The Book of Unholy Mischief. This was a very rich book to read and I really enjoyed it. If you get a chance to read it, let me know. I'd love to know your thoughts on it. I'm very bad at linking reviews but if you've read it and would like me to link your review, send me your link.
Diane, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one. I love books set in Venice and anything to do with food, so that probably helped me a lot.
Another one for the wish list! I love foodie books so this one sounds like a real treat for me, and you're right, the cover is divine.
Great quote and great cover. I might have to give this one a try.
Diary of an Eccentric