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The Chef s Apprentice
Ellen Newmark
Washington Square Press 2011
400 pages paperback

Previously published in 2008 as The Book of Unholy Mischief, and now released in paperback, The Chef s Apprentice by Elle Newmark is a beautiful historical fiction set in mysterious and intriguing Venice during the birth of the Renaissance when the quest for knowledge and tales of the New World seduce the nation. Rumours of a book of alchemy that holds the secrets to immortality, power, lust, and wealth beyond imagination rile both rich and poor to obsession while they try to discover its whereabouts.

Luciano, a tough and illiterate orphan barely surviving on the streets, is rescued by Maestro Amato Ferrer, the infinitely creative and influential chef of the chief magistrate who takes him on as an apprentice in one of the most prestigious and bountiful kitchens of the time.

Luciano s presence evokes both jealousy and superstition. When he witnesses a murder that no one else cares about, his life is forever altered and his insatiable curiosity propels him down an intriguing and dangerous path. Luciano must choose his allies carefully, learn to trust amidst loss and betrayal, and ultimately, be worthy of his destiny.

The Chef s Apprentice is wonderful! It is an interesting, complex, and vivid tapestry that encompasses every human strength and frailty, from love and desire, to ambition, to sacrifice, to ultimate purpose; all set within a sensual backdrop of not only culinary magic but beautifully lush experiences of life s moments.

This historical fiction with a thriller element is a solid, descriptive, and entertaining novel, definitely worth savouring. So find a cosy place where you can relax undisturbed, pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy.