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The Book of Unholy Mischief review

August 31, 2008

This book is a galley I got from work this summer and it isn’t due out until December 30th.

Review and Grade: A-

I loved this book for how it made me feel as I read it. Similar in many ways to The DaVinci Code, The Book of Unholy Mischief is all about a book of knowledge that seems to hold the key to whatever people want most dearly: riches, immortality or love. Venice is turbulent with the rumors of the book (and its many rewards) and the threat of the Cappe Nerre, a violent secret police that aren’t so secret. Everyone seems to be looking for it. The story follows a homeless orphan who gets picked off the street by a master chef, taken in as an apprentice and how his world is transformed in different ways by the legend of the book.

This book is full of challenging ideas, meant not to be believed necessarily, but considered. The point of the book, set just before Europe’s Enlightenment period, is to encourage free thought and to challenge ideas that stand simply because powers-that-be promote them. I must admit, the Catholic Church doesn’t look good in this, but again, that is a somewhat minor point in the overall story. The little life lessons mixed in, mostly from the chef, are many. So many in fact that I believe they lose some of their influence. However, at the same time, anyone could pull something meaningful out of it and apply it to their life. My favorite is ‘be here, not there’ or to live in the moment (something my ADD mind struggles with).


I’d recommend this book to anyone that wouldn’t be offended by the negative portrayal of papal power in historical Rome (this was approx the 1600s, I’m guessing). It doesn’t have quite the same level of danger and excitement build up as The DaVinci Code, but it takes a similar approach and focuses more on the importance of free thinking and the value of knowledge.


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