Monday, July 20, 2009

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

5 Stars
R- 2

How gorgeous is that cover?? I mean really. It's beautiful. I thought the book sounded interesting when I got the email about the Virtual Book Tour, but when I saw the cover I was officially hooked.
UK Cover

The UK cover is nice, too, but I don't think it has the richness that the US cover has. The font is fabulous, though.
I really enjoyed this book. I know some readers are bothered by the anachronisms(ie the presence of potatoes in a Venetian kitchen in 1498), but I thought they worked for the characters, especially after reading the author's note about them.

I thought Luciano, a street rat plucked out of the dirt by a master chef, was an engaging and entertaining narrator and I enjoyed his voice. And I thought the master chef himself made a nice balanced character.

I do think it's interesting, though, that the trend with these kind of books (ie find the lost manuscript that discredits Rome) seems to be that to discredit Rome you have to discredit all of Christianity. Now, granted, in 1498 there weren't a lot of other Christian choices, but still. The Last Templar was the same way. Not sure if The DaVinci Code fits that mold exactly, but I do think it started the trend. :D

The premise didn't bother me as a Christian, but I'm not Catholic. Would it (either the trend or this book specifically) bother me more if I were? I'm not sure. Maybe.

Either way, I thought it was well-written. I love the opening paragraph:
"My name is Luciano-- just Luciano. I'm Venetian by birth, old now and chained to my memories, compelled to return, link by link, seeking clarity."
Such a lovely metaphor.

I loved this too:
"Marching into the dining room in their fabulous hats, they looked like an assemblage of fantastic poisonous mushrooms."
Fitting, really, given how corrupt the council was. :D

All in all, a great book full of intrigue and food-- what more could you want?

Check back tomorrow when Elle Newmark shares her thoughts on the Kindle, which we've been talking about here a lot lately!
(And maybe if we're lucky she'll pop by and leave a comment telling us about what she's working on now.... I hear she's been doing research in India....)


  1. The book sounds interesting!

    I think the trend of confusing Christianity with Catholicism comes more from readers (and commentators) than the writers themselves, although I have no idea about this particular book.

  2. Well I think part of it with this book is it takes place pre-Reformation, so there aren't a lot of other options for Christianity.

    I just find it interesting that no one seems to have "gone after Rome" with a challenge to papal authority or tradition or anything other than the divinity of Christ.