The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti – Book Review

The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti – Book Review

The Book of Perilous Dishes by Doina Rusti

The Book of Perilous Dishes

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1798 Bucharest: A magical, dark adventure

A year full of intrigue and political machinations: a slave-chef lives in Bucharest, sought after by everyone. His cooking is sublime, satisfying even the sophisticated tastes of the Prince, who steals him from his rightful owner and installs him in the Palace. However, no one knows that the chef has in his possession a witch’s recipe book: the Book of Perilous Dishes.

The recipes in this magical book can bring about damaging sincerity, forgetfulness, the gift of prediction, or hysterical laughter. And the rightful owner of this book is fourteen-year-old Pâtca, initiated in the occult arts. Pâtca comes to Bucharest, to her uncle, Cuviosu Zăval, to recover this book, but she finds him murdered and the Book of Perilous Dishes has disappeared without trace. All that Zăval has left her is a strange map she must decipher.

Travelling from Romania to France and on to Germany to do so, Pâtca’s family’s true past and powers are revealed, as is her connection to Silica the cook…

Review by Stacey

The Book of Perilous Dishes is set in the late 1700s and begins in Bucharest. After her Grandmother is rounded up by the local law enforcement, fourteen-year-old Pâtca with her dress filled with useful items and her shoes filled with cash is forced to leave knowing she must complete her mission to find the Perilous Book of Dishes which has been stolen by a slave-chef.

The book is a witch’s book that contains many recipes that are magical and Pâtca is the rightful owner but she must walk this path alone when the one person who could help her is found murdered.

This historical fantasy novel has been translated from Romanian to English and the translation works exceptionally well. The plot is very unusual and quite seductive. It has a classic folklore feel to it and each page is completely charming.

The premise is filled with tension and magic and you are never quite so sure what is real and what is not. Because of this, it takes some concentration to fully understand the book and it became a slow-burn read because of this. However, this doesn’t subtract from the glorious setting spread across Europe and the enjoyable story that is exceptionally touching and beautiful.

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Doina Rusti


DOINA RUŞTI, important contemporary Romanian novelist, is unanimously appreciated for epic force, for originality and erudition of her novels. She received all major Romanian awards, including the Romanian Academy Prize, and was translated into many languages (even in Chinese).

She wrote ten novels, including: Fantoma din moară (The Phantom in the Mill, 2008), Lizoanca (2009), Zogru (2006).
The novels Manuscrisul fanariot (The Phanariot Manuscript, 2015), Mâța Vinerii (The Book of Perilous Dishes, 2017) and “Homeric” (2019) can be a Phanariotic Trilogy (18th century). The most recent novel: Paturi oculte (Occult beds), 2020.

Good international reviews in: La Stampa, Stato Quotidiano, Il Venerdì di Repubblica. Il Libero, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Magyar Nemzet, La Opinion, Turia. Il Mercurio etc.

Doina Rusti lives in Bucharest, and is a professor and screenwriter.

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