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Elle Newmark
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The Book of Unholy Mischief

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3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,098 Ratings  ·  424 Reviews
"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 ci ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 461 pages
Published September 2009 by black swan (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sandra
Apesar da capa doce e rosa, o conteúdo é logo de início um choque. A crueldade e frieza reservada aos mais pobres e humildes, incluindo pequenas crianças orfãs, é de estremecer. O que estas crianças têem de suportar e fazer para sobreviver é desumano.
É mesmo de uma dessas crianças, um rapaz, que este livro nos conta.
Luciano nasceu com uma marca escura na face o que é tido como um sinal de mau agoiro. No entanto, para um homem com segredos e algo a espiar é um sinal de que deve proteger e educar
...more
Kathryn
It's historical fiction--about a chef and his apprentice. It's immediately obvious why I would be drawn to this book; it's set in Rennaisance Venice, circa 1498. (For a while all the historical fiction was set in Elizabethan England, but now that's been done to death, so I guess Rennaisance Italy is going to be the new fad.)

Luciano is an orphan living on the streets. He steals whatever he needs, imagines a better life in the New World, and scrapes by. Until one day he is caught trying to steal
...more
Lisa
Jan 19, 2009 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More like 2.5 stars. Quick and kind of fun, but the writing goes way over the top sometimes and is quite clunky other times. The totally unrealistic plot goes "Da Vinci Code" (not a compliment) when the "big secret" gets introduced. What really shines are the descriptions of the food.
Teresa
Feb 12, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-usa, 5-estrelas
O aprendiz de Veneza é um livro com todos os ingredientes para me encantar:
Veneza, história, renascimento, inquisição, cozinhas, cozinheiros, comida, gatos, orfãos, pobreza, riqueza, poder, amor, coragem, sacrifício, segredos, livros...

A época – Renascentismo, o terror da inquisição e a coragem dos que lutam para salvarem e manterem os seus princípios.
Passa-se em Veneza, uma cidade misteriosa e pela qual tenho um imenso fascínio, pelo que dela conheço e desconheço.
As personagens principais são L
...more
J. Lawrence
Apr 29, 2013 J. Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the prose. Made me want go back and edit my own. Sheer beauty. The story left me wanting but how it was told was all craft. Well done.
Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
Published:30/12/2008
Author: Elle Newmark
Recommended for: fans of mystery books


This was a very intriguing book, full of mystery and secrets. It took about 2pages to get into the story and get hooked on it, it was fast paced and kept you wondering what the 'unholy book of mischief' was about. It was brilliantly written and you learn alot from the book. The books it's self is like a book of unholy mischief. I would recommend it for anybody who likes books full of mystery, secrets, intrigue and adve
...more
Oria
Jul 10, 2011 Oria rated it really liked it
One might think this is just another story of love, loss and life’s lessons. Boh, one might say with a dismissive wave of the hand, there are plenty of stories like that around. What makes this one different is a combination of straightforward storytelling interspersed with bits of philosophical musings and of course a lot of mystery.
It was yet another book I had chosen at random. How can I resist a book with such a beguiling name? It whispered of long ago times, of adventure and desire – all ke
...more
Bill
Feb 19, 2009 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a bit of a slow start, this book hooked me and held on right to the end. It's the story of Luciano, a homeless orphan in 1495 Venice, who is inexplicably taken in by the magnificent Amato Ferrero, chef to the doge of Venice. Chef Ferrero makes Luciano his apprentice, and after several months of menial chores such as carrying water and maintaining the stock pot, he begins to learn the arts of cooking. Meanwhile, rumors are rampant about an ancient book that allegedly contains (depending upo ...more
Carol
Aug 19, 2012 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This historical novel is about Luciano, a street urchin who become apprenticed to the doge's cook in 1498 Venice. As a consequence of his apprenticeship he not only learns about philosophy and hidden knowledge from his master, he also gets caught up in the intrigue around the search for a book containing this hidden knowledge.
While the setting and characters were quite enchanting (not to mention the incredible descriptions of food), the novel just didn't go far enough. Newmark introduces the ide
...more
Bonny
This is a really good read!!! The detailed description of Venice life and culture in the late 1400's is amazing. Plus there is a good story line with intrigue, the culinary arts, religion, politics, dungeons, mischief and learning.

I really enjoy these kinds of historical glimpses, even if it is a novel and someone's interpretation. This is a good one.

I think the actual title of the book in paper form is "Bones of the Dead". I read it in e-book form titled "The Book of Unholy Mischief".
Katherine
What promised to be an interesting story ended up being a chronically narrow historical portrayal--all characters that were connected in any way to the Catholic church (or Christianity in general) were written as unenlightened, corrupt, or irredeemably evil. At first I wasn't sure if Newmark had an ax to grind or had inadvertently written an uneven chronicle. Aside from the completely unbalanced aspect there were numerous anachronisms in the tale ranging from silly to distracting and some of the ...more
Billy
Jul 04, 2012 Billy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, solid story, interesting mystery...,

Late 15th century Italy; Luciano was an orphan, raised on the streets of Venice. In what would seem is a stroke of luck, he is plucked from his life of beggary and crime by the chef to the doge. He is given the opportunity to live a normal life, perhaps better than normal, by this chef; this mysterious chef.

Surrounding anyone who lives in Venice at this time is a rumor about a book that contains secrets from spiritual enlightenment to the prowess
...more
Bookish
Mar 19, 2010 Bookish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the middle of a party, ever start thinking of the book you left at home and long to just curl up and finish the story you had started? The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark made me do that very thing. But then, I'm equal parts nerd and book lover.

Certain key phrases always make me perk up when considering a novel - the mystery of an ancient book, the promise of heavenly food descriptions (nerd, book lover, and voluptuary), throw in a dash of something decadent like Renaissance Venice a
...more
Lynn
Long drives are made less tiresome by listening to audio tapes. I picked this up in the bargain bin at Borders as I was preparing for my trip and just decided to take a chance on it. What a lucky buy! I enjoyed listening to the story and I want to go back and read it to return to some passages that were particularly delicious.

This is one of the few books that I have "read" that is set during the late 1400's in Venice. Newmark has made the sights, sounds, smells, food and politics of this period
...more
Kristen
This is a FANTASTIC book! It's one of those rare books that truly offers something for everyone. Whether you like historical fiction, suspense novels, Venice, explorations of the place religion plays in the world (and whether it's deserved), underdog-makes-good stories, or cooking (yes, I said - cooking!), The Book of Unholy Mischief has something for you! Well, I mean - that title alone is fabulous, don't you think??

Seriously, this is an exceptionally well written, multi-layered, and joyful exp
...more
Margo Kelly
It was good. I liked the second half better than the first half, and I probably would've like the first half more if I hadn't been so distracted by other books while trying to start this one. This book was easy to set down. The quote on the back of the book said it was a page-turner. I would have to disagree with that.

While it was well written and an enjoyable story to read, it just didn't excite me.

It's about an adolescent boy who is trying to figure everything out about himself, life, and a my
...more
TheSecretWriter
Aug 12, 2010 TheSecretWriter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Venice in the 1400's, this book tells the fictional tale of a hidden ancient book, that is said to hold the secret to immeasurable power.
Luciano a mischievous street orphan finds himself taken in by the doge's chief to work as an apprentice in the kitchen of the doge's opulent palace.
Within Venice at this time corruption and intrigue was rife. Within the palace Luciano witnesses sinister rituals that lead him to wonder if the fabled book is close at hand.
This story contains an excellent
...more
Ben Babcock
What do you want in life? Power? Money? Being really, really, really good looking like Derek Zoolander? Or maybe just a roof over your head?

There are plenty of great stories about orphans and farm boys and farm girls and dragons who grow up to save the world. We call these adventures epic because of their scope. But there are also great stories on a smaller scale. The Chef’s Apprentice aims to be one of these: Luciano is a Venetian street urchin lucky enough to be plucked from the streets and gi
...more
Juliette
Jun 04, 2014 Juliette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I came across this book in my local library, the title of the book caught my eye as I was searching for another author.

Luciano is a lovely character, who very quickly won my heart with his innocence and curiosity. I laughed many a time because of his getting himself into the most difficult of situations and his quick witted ways out of them too!

His “Maestro” and mentor Chef Ferrero, who takes Luciano under his wing, is a very strong and intellectual character. He intrigues the reader with his cu
...more
C.W.
Feb 19, 2009 C.W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though dubbed as a new DaVinci Code, I found this novel to be far more evocative of the price we pay for secrets, and a tribute to the art of food as a sensory enticement.
Paul Pessolano
Luciano lives in Vienna in 1496 and is a street urchin. He and his friend survive by begging and stealing. Luciana is fortunate when he is caught stealing by the master chef for trhe Doge of Venice. He sees something in Luciano that makes him take him under his wing and puts him to work in the kitchen.

The intrigue begins when a major search for a book that reportedly contains the "recipe" to make gold, to make one immortal, and a potent for love.

Luciano gets caught up in the search for the book
...more
bookczuk
A tale of old Venice, alchemy, and intrigue, wrapped up with some of the most sumptuous descriptions of food I've read in a long time. Young Luciano, an orphan living by his wits and cunning, finds his life changed when the Doge's chef rescues him from his life on the streets. At the same time there is a search for a mysterious book of potions -- recipes for gold, immortality, love, and more.

What swept me in were the menus that Chef presented to the Doge and guests. The descriptions bordered on
...more
Elle Newmark
Jul 02, 2010 Elle Newmark rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Well, I wrote this book and the research alone was an education. Here's a brief synopsis and a few reviews:

It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors of an ancient book said to hold secrets of seduction and power. But while some will stop at nothing to find the book, others will die to protect it.

As intrigue grips the city, Luciano, a quick-witted, street-wise orphan gets caught up in the madness. He is taken as an apprentice to the doge's chef, and in the palace kitch
...more
Lori
Aug 24, 2010 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a reader that is looking for a fast-paced, quick to it book, The Book of Unholy Mischief is not for you. If, however, you are looking for a book that simmers slowly, builds with an exotic, leisurely scent of savory spices and peels back, layer after layer, as a succulent orange or oversized onion does, you won't be disappointed by this visual masterpiece.

I loved the colorful depictions of Venice in the late fifteenth century. So vivid was author Elle Newmark's writing and characteriz
...more
Karen Brooks
This was a delightful book, set in Venice in the late 1400s, at the height of its powers, and primarily in the kitchen of the Doge's palazzo. It follows the fortunes of a young orphan named Luciano and what becomes his apprenticeship to the Doge's head cook, Chef Ferrero. Of course, the Chef is more than he seems - intelligent, articulate, wise and the holder of a great mystery which Luciano becomes desperate to uncover - but he's not the only one. Others want to find what it is the Chef knows a ...more
Nancy Schober
Jun 02, 2011 Nancy Schober rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About a perfect a book as you will come across. Enchanting charming characters. Rich descriptions of food. Magical recipes.

Favorite quotes;

"But if you think about it, being born twice isn't any stranger than being born once, is it? Open your mind and don't be too quick to dismiss it."


"He said, 'The soufflé teaches the folly of pursuing immortality. Life is death. A moment arises, and it dies. There's nothing but the present and you can't hold onto the present - you can only be in it. A soufflé a
...more
Jan
Jul 06, 2009 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was thoroughly charmed by this book, a complex story full of intrigue and lush, irresistible descriptions.

Set in Venice near the turn of the 16th Century, The Book of Unholy Mischief follows the exploits of Luciano, a street orphan who is inexplicably taken as apprentice by Amato Ferrero, master chef to the doge. As Luciano begins to learn the secrets of fine cooking, so too does he begin to learn secrets of a much more dangerous and portentous nature. For the whole of Venice is searching for
...more
LJ
THE BOOK OF UNHOLY MISCHIEF (Hist-Luciano-Venice/Rome, Italy-1498) – VG+
Newmark, Elle – Standalone
Atria, 2008, US Advanced Reading Copy – ISBN: 1416590544

First Sentence: My name is Luciano—just Luciano.

In late 1400’s Italy, Rodrigo Borgia is Pope Alexander VI in Rome and Venice is controlled by The Council of Ten, the Cappe Nere (Black Cape) guards and Riccardi, doge of Venice is syphilitic. A rumor has arisen about a legendary book, for which the doge has offered a reward. What the books contai
...more
Tanja
Mar 09, 2009 Tanja rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a book that will solve all your problems whatever those problems may be. Does is contain lessons on alchemy? Or maybe has a recipe for an elixir of life. Or is it a love potion you seek? Or is the book just a little cookbook?
Meet the guardians of "the book". Set is Venice with it's beautiful landscape and winding streets that may give you a poor kid, a rich emporer, or the cappe nere-really bad dudes. But, at the center of the story is Luciano and "the meastro", who is a cook. Not only
...more
Elissa Wiley
I was not a big fan of this book. I'll put it to you this way...I accidentally went from Disk 1 to Disk 4 by mistake. It still seemed to flow just fine, so take that for what it's worth. Once I went back and listened to the other disks, I didn't really feel like I missed much. Hahahahahaha.

All in all, it was just ok. I didn't really get engaged with all of the characters. A lot of, "yeah, like that would really happen" moments.

I enjoyed the reader, who definitely made it entertaining. That real
...more
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Elle Newmark is an award-winning writer whose books are inspired by her travels. She and her husband, a retired physician, have two grown children and five grandchildren. They live in the hills north of San Diego.
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“...unrequited love does not die; it's only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded. For some unfortunates, it turns bitter and mean, and those who come after pay the price for the hurt done by the one who came before.” 978 likes
“I realized that cats make a perfect audience, they don't laugh at you, they never contradict you, there's no need to impress them, and they won't divulge your secrets.” 30 likes
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