Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Oracle of Stamboul - Book Review

The book arrived in the mail last week. I tore open the shipping package to find a ornately wrapped package with a seal. When a book comes specially wrapped this way there's only two things it could be--a treasure or a disappointment.

The Oracle of Stamboul is the first novel from Michael David Lukas. The story takes place in the late nineteenth century and begins with the magical and simultaneously violent birth of Eleonora Cohen. Raised by her father and step-mother/aunt in Constanta, Eleonora learns quickly and remembers everything she reads or hears. Fluent in seven languages, Eleonora is a young savant.

The plot moves to Stamboul, the capital of the declining Ottoman empire, when Eleonora's father travels there for business and Eleonora stows away on the ship. While in Stamboul, Eleonora and her talents will come to the attention of the Sultan.

The novel flows steadily along. The language is beautiful in its simplicity and melodious tone. The characters are charming, fascinating and entirely believable in spite of being completely unique. The reader cannot help but fall in love with the delightful and quiet character of Eleonora. The mysteries are intriguing and the setting is in itself inspiring and magical. All things necessary to create a fabulous literary work.

However, while I appreciated Eleonora's ultimate ending, I felt that the climax is weak and many of the mysteries are left unanswered and simply left to dangle loose at the end. The reader is left to wonder what might have been, which is probably the point.

The novel left me with plenty of things to think about and would make a great book to read for book groups because of the possible discussions regarding predestination, personal choice and how ultimately one person can effect and change history.

Lukas is a skilled story teller and I look forward to reading his future works.

I won a free copy of the book from FirstReads. However, this review is my own honest opinion and no additional compensation has been received.

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