Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour: The Book of Unholy Mischief

I was asked to read The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark for a virtual book tour. When I read the description of the book, I was intrigued, but I had no idea what was really in store for me.

The story, set in 15th century Venice, is centered around Luciano, a young orphan who is forced to live on the streets, stealing food to survive. The other main focus of this story is “The Book,” a mysterious book said to contain secrets such as a love potion, and a formula to stop aging in its tracks. When Luciano is caught stealing a pomegranate by the doge’s chef, Chef Ferraro, he is thrown in to a world which he could never imagine – instead of being punished, he is taken to the doge’s kitchen, cleaned up, and allowed to work in the kitchen as an apprentice.

Everyone is out to get this book of secrets, and they will stop at nothing to find it. The council of Cardinals is willing to torture and kill in order to find the book. The secret police, or Cappe Nere, is much feared all over the city, as they are ravaging and torturing everyone expected of knowing anything about the book – librarians, teachers, philosophers.

Venice comes alive in this novel. Ms. Newmark gives great attention to the atmosphere and the description of the city. I felt as though I could really see the Rialto marketplace, full of merchants and goods, and of people milling around and trying to bargain. I loved the description, too of La Sensa, the annual feast and festival held for eight days for the people of Venice. It was also interesting to hear the descriptions of the alleyways where Luciano and his street friends would hide to escape after they had stolen food, places only known to street urchins.

One other star of this novel, the food. At its heart, this novel is both a historical fiction novel, and a culinary fiction novel. While it doesn’t have actual recipes hidden in it’s pages, the description and the loving care taken to enhance the senses while talking about the food is amazing. You learn from Chef Ferrero that different ingredients can provoke different reactions and emotions. The Chef, Luciano’s maestro, shows again and again the power of food, and tries to teach Luciano many lessons using this gift.

I found this novel to be deeply entertaining, with twists and turns I wasn’t expecting (Luciano is faced with a choice to defend and protect his maestro, or being persuaded to turn back to his old ways by his street friends), and there is even a little love story in this book (Luciano falls in love with a young novice he sees in the Rialto). I was completely engaged and hooked from the very beginning of this novel.

I think this would be a great read for anyone who enjoys either historical fiction or culinary fiction. There is definitely something in this novel for everyone!!! Take the time to pick this one up – you’ll be glad you did because its mysteries and secrets will hold on to you long after you put it down!!!

Thank you to Tracee for asking me to host this book, and thank you to Ms. Newmark for an autographed copy of her fabulous book!!!

For more information about this tour, check out Elle Newmark's Pump Up Your Book Promotion page!!!


bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see this is good, because I'm touring it next month. I love culinary fiction!

Storyheart said...

This looks such a fun and interesting book, I'm sure many people will enjoy it.


LuAnn said...

Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed this book. I've been wondering whether or not I should try it.

Anonymous said...

I've never tried culinary fiction but I'm big into historical fiction. Since you made the review sound so delicious, I'll have to put this on my "to-read" list.