Review : The book of unholy Mischief
The book of unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark
Genre : Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages : 577
My Rating : 3.5/5
Renaissance, Venice, Book and Food are all elements that will immediately draw me to a book. After seeing the cover and reading the description, I just couldn’t resist to this novel.
First, let’s begin with a shortened version of the back of the book:
“It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors of an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist”s dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. Everyone, rich and poor alike, speculates about the long-buried secrets scrawled in its pages and where it could possibly be hidden within the labyrinthine city. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it.
Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef”s rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive
ingredients and secrets. After he witnesses a shocking murder in the Palace dining room, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and that no one, not even those he’s come to rely on most, can be trusted. Luciano embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.”
With its air of mysthery, the Book of Unholy Mischief quickly brings back in time the reader. The descriptions are plentiful, making the first half of the book a slow but detailed walk across the historical Venice. The writing was tedious at times, the flow of it sometimes great, sometimes, not so great. As a result, it took me a few days to really get into it, and only when I reached the middle of the book did it really interested me.
One of the things that kept me reading was the author’s ability for food description. It could hardly get more tasty, whether the author described a single pommegrenate or a complete meal. The food isn’t only there as a simple object or the character’s work, but also as a metaphore for the events occuring at that time. Let me tell you a little secret; I’ve never been a great cook, but Newmark’s words made cooking so appealing and magical, that after reading the book, I felt like rushing into the kitchen and cooking something, anything. Obviously though, if food description is something that makes you agonize, you might want to skip this book.
As for the story itself, it was good enough to keep me reading. Maybe not of the most original idea, but I liked the way it was brought through the characters. The young Luciano was incredibly interesting, being neither good nor bad, but a mix of both as he tries to define who he is – and chose who he wants to be.
On a last note, you might want to skip this book if :
- You are a strong believer; without revealing the main plot, the story does question Jesus’ existence.
- You have a profond dislike for historical innacuracies. The author does address some of them at the end of the book, but not all. Let’s say they are not, in my opinion, unforgivable ones.