The Book of Unholy Mischief

by Elle Newmark

It is the height of the Renaissance and in Rome the Borgia family is in power, but in the Republic of Venice a crafty doge reigns supreme. Although renowned for its intrigues and scandals, the city is abuzz with news of a mysterious book, and no one is more curious about it than Luciano, a lively orphan who has been rescued from the street by the doge’s personal chef. Counting himself very fortunate for his improved circumstances, and anxious to prove himself a worthy culinary student to his Maestro, young Luciano cannot help but retain some of his street wiles, gleaning information about the book and the dangerous inner workings of Venetian politics. Who actually has the book? Luciano witnesses the doge commit murder, and then pours a golden elixir down the corpse’s throat - does the book contain magical spells and a cure for death? The chef’s friends have some strange ideas about the nature of the universe – does the book contain the heretical teachings of Copernicus? Is the book the long-searched-for solution for turning base metals into gold, as the city’s alchemist’s hope? The doge’s cold-blooded rival for power, Landucci, wants to destroy the seat of religious power in Rome – perhaps the book contains lost Gnostic gospels? Then again, the Maestro himself seems to be able to bend the doge’s will with his wondrous food, created from his varied and suspect ingredients (like the ‘poisonous’ tomato), grown in his own mysterious garden – perhaps the book is simply the best cookbook the world has ever known? Whatever the answer, Luciano’s own tale is as furtive as the winding canals of Venice, with as many twists and murky depths that will keep readers entranced. The author impressively evokes the atmosphere of day-to-day life in Renaissance Venice, its festivals, its food and its people, and although this might seem like another ‘artifact mystery’ in the vein of “The Da Vinci Code”, it is has a much richer feel. Click here to find The Book of Unholy Mischief in the SPL Catalogue.


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