THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL is a magical historical novel about an astonishing eight-year-old girl in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.
It is 1877, on the shores of the Black Sea, and the omens for the newborn Eleanora Cohen are hardly promising. Not only does her mother die in childbirth, but her village is being attacked by the Tsar's Royal Cavalry. However, despite this bad beginning, a sour stepmother and a traumatic journey in the hold of a ship, young Eleanora grows into a remarkably clever but very engaging child. And when a heartbreaking tragedy leaves her marooned in Istanbul, where spies and boarded-up harems and sudden death are as much a part of life as delicious spices, Paris fashions and rosewater, it is Eleanora's extraordinary courage and character which lead her straight to the Sultan's court, and to her salvation.
A girl changes the course of the Ottoman empire in Lukas's middling debut. Eleonora Cohen born in 1877 Romania, prophesied to alter history, and gifted with great intelligence stows away at age eight to follow her father to Stamboul. Her first weeks there are a whirlwind of beautiful new dresses and cultural experiences, but the idyllic adventure takes a terrible twist after her father is killed in an accident and Eleonora is taken in by her father's wealthy and politically slippery friend. She proves to be a quick study, and once her tutor alerts the palace of Eleonora's immense intelligence, she finds herself in attendance at the sultan's court, commenting on a political standoff between the Ottoman empire, Russia, and Germany. As the sultan's interest in her grows, so, too, does her reputation and importance, though Eleonora is unsure if her new role is what she wants from life. The backdrop is nicely done, but Lukas can't quite get his characters to pop or the plot to click; indeed, the buildup of Eleonora's oracle-like powers culminates in a disappointing fizzle. It's well intentioned, but flatly executed.
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Oracle of stamboul
What an engaging, beautifully written debut novel. Set in ancient Turkey, and Istanbul where the main part of the story takes place, the author immerses us in the magical world of the main character, a little girl with an extra-ordinary gift. An Arabian Nights tale for modern day, a story you will completely yourself in. Intelligently written, with drama, and passion, but above all, a proper story, with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.