Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Debut Showcase: The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark

The Book of Unholy Mischief (US - Canada - UK)
By Elle Newmark (Website - Blog - Twitter)
Publisher: Atria (December 30, 2008)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Audio Sample (Not a direct link)

Publisher's Blurb:
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 city. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it.

As a storm of intrigue and desire circles the republic that grew from the sea, Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef's rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets.

Luciano's loyalty to his street friends and the passion he holds for a convent girl named Francesca remain, but it is not long before he, too, is caught up in the madness. After he witnesses a shocking murder in the Palace dining room, he realizes that nothing is as it seems and that no one, not even those he's come to rely on most, can be trusted. Armed with a precocious mind and an insatiable curiosity, Luciano embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.

Mulluane's Take:
Elle Newmark brings two areas of expertise to this novel, her extensive travels and her life as the daughter of a master chef. I found a bunch of reviews here: Book Browse and one thing I noticed was a total absence of any mention of fantasy elements. It is described as an historical fiction, a mystery/adventure and a coming of age story. Within those parameters, it was generally well liked. Not sure if I would like this one or not, I am not into food but I love history. However, I am not sure if it would satisfy my fantasy addiction. Likely this book will cater more to the historical fiction lovers.

Tia's Take:
The blurb seems to be fantasy, but Simon and Schuster classifies it as historical fiction. To be safe, and since Mulluane has already done the research, we'll just go ahead and cover it. Fantasy elements are creeping into lots of other genres, after all. The author has a wonderful blog post up right now about being over 60 when she published her first novel:

Still, embracing my age was an uncomfortable novelty. It’s shocking, unbelievable really, that I’m over sixty. I don’t think about my age, and I feel like I’m thirty-five, only smarter. Because, you see, I didn’t spend forty years sitting on my ass, writing in a void and collecting rejection letters. Oh, I was writing and amassing my share of rejections all right, and I have the emotional hide of an armadillo to prove it, but I was also living.
Correction: she self-published it, then proceeded to get it noticed by publishers and agents. Read the blog for how she did it. Very inventive.


ediFanoB said...

Must take a deep breath first.

Just read Elle Newmarks very impressive blog entry.

I raise my hat to her. From my point of view she did the right thing.

She should serve as a model.

Next year I change target group but only from marketing point of view.

Does this mean that I can't read graphic novels any longer because I'm too old?

And the other way round: An author of a debut novel must be younger than sixty?

I say definitely no!!

In case of reading and writing it doesn't count how old you are.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."
Charles W. Eliot,
The Happy Life, 1896
US educator (1834 - 1926)

Neil Richard said...

I've added this one to my "To Be Read List." I doubt the library will have it, but it's certainly worth asking for.

Nancy Beck said...

Good for her! I'm a relative baby at 46, but considering what almost happened to me last year, I decided this year is going to be the year to: A) finish my historical fantasy and B) send it off to agents (with the requisite query letter encased within) - although I'd consider a small publisher with distribution as a second choice.

I'm going to put this on my Buy list this year - although heaven knows when I'll get around to buying it, since I just bought a ton of books recently (gift cards are great!).