Title: THE STOCKHOLM OCTAVO
Author: Karen Engelmann
Publisher: Ecco, 2012
Rating: 5 Stars
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town—a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor—until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlour, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision—if he can find them.
Emil begins his search, intrigued by the puzzle of his Octavo and the good fortune Mrs. Sparrow’s vision portends. But when Mrs. Sparrow wins a mysterious folding fan in a card game, the Octavo’s deeper powers are revealed. For Emil it is no longer just a game of the heart; collecting his eight is now crucial to pulling his country back from the crumbling precipice of rebellion and chaos. Set against the luminous backdrop of late eighteenth-century Stockholm, as the winds of revolution rage through the great capitals of Europe, The Stockholm Octavo brings together a collection of characters, both fictional and historical, whose lives tangle in political conspiracy, love, and magic in a breathtaking debut that will leave you spellbound.
WHAT I THOUGHT
Simply put this was, for me at least (given other negative reviews I’ve read), one of the best discoveries of last year. I loved this book, loved the depth and array of characters, the setting and backdrop, and was caught up from page one with the subtle intrigue. Engelmann presents us with a wonderfully nuanced cast of characters with well-drawn settings a realistic portrayal for the day, and some tart, droll, and witty dialogue.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable page-turner and a rollicking good read from beginning, middle and ending. I couldn’t put it down and read it within a matter of days. Personally, I cannot recommend it highly enough and don’t hand out five star ratings without really good reason, being a picky reader to begin with. I have to have all the right elements in place for a novel to be a good read for me, and that includes a great storyline, that Engelmann delivers, in fact, she delivered on every level as far as I am concerned, hitting all the right notes.
I hope you give this one a chance, given some bad reviews because, seriously, I wonder sometimes if people have read the same book I have when I see what they say.