About the book
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark is the story of apprentice chef Luciano. He was taken of the streets by Chef Ferrero and put to work in the kitchen of the palace of the Doge in Venice. Venice is alive with the search for a book, which contains either, the secret to immortality, forbidden gospels that can be used to over throw the current pope, Borgia, or it contains love potions, or secrets of alchemy. Luciano gets caught up in the search for the book.
This is the August book for the Wednesday book club. I quite enjoyed reading it, though I was never quite sure when it was set... sometime between 1492, as the New World has been discovered and 1606, which was when the Dutch first came to Australia - as there was mention of a large rodent which goes about on it's hind legs and has a pocket for it's young. Though they did mention that the book was set about 300 years after Roger Bacon was around. All this is very distracting. I'm sure that the mention of "love apples" still being thought poisonous, and newness of coffee and cacao beans, would place it better in time, but I'm not up with food history, and I don't want to have to do research about a book I'm reading. That's the author's job!... Ok, I can't help myself... I've been looking into when tomatos and cacao beans made it to Europe and they became popular in the late 1500s.
Apart from that it is easy to get caught up in the story. Venice is like a character in the novel, with it's alleys and markets. The description of food is wonderful, and made me feel hungry reading it.
I like the Maestro Chef, though we only see him through Luciano's eyes. I'm not sure how reliable a narrator his is though. He spies on everyone and reports back to the chef, which is quite funny. He spies on the Chef but manages to keep that to himself. I like how the relationship develops between Luciano and the Chef.
Some reviews that I've read compare The book of unholy mischief to The Da Vinci Code. I think that is an unfair comparison. I've enjoyed Book of Unholy Mischief so much more than the Da Vinci Code. It has much more depth. That being said I really did not like The Da Vinci code. It took me months to get passed the first 70 pages.