Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Stockholm Octavo-Karen Engelmann

The Stockholm Octavo

Karen Engelmann

Ecco, Oct 23 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780061995347

In 1791, Offices of Customs and Excise Sekretaire Emil Larsson loves the life of a swinging single in enlightened Stockholm. He enjoys drinking, playing cards and is contented as a bachelor though his employment is in jeopardy if he fails to marry soon.

Everything changes for Emil when he meets gambling club owner Sofia Sparrow. A fortune teller whose clientele include King Gustav III, Mrs. Sparrow lays out the bureaucrat’s personal Octavo of eight people who will assist him in finding his fiancée and a promotion. What she fails to tell him is that his Octavo overlaps with hers in a Divine Geometrical connection and that his octet is divided on both sides of a scheme involving the monarch.

This is a fresh thrilling Swedish historical fantasy that ties what is happening in France to what occurs in Sweden. The opening act is incredible as readers learn of aristocratic intrigue and the applications of the pseudo sciences (Divine geometry, numerology, hand fan magic and cartomancy). Soon Emil’s search by the numbers for a wife via the Octavo contacts lead to the demands of opposing female conspirators (Mrs. Sparrow and Baroness Kristina Uzanne). Complex due to changing roles and relationships (thankfully a cast listing included as there are fourteen key players and the city), readers will appreciate this strong though at times convoluted late eighteenth century tale as the audience and the protagonist learn it is in the cards.

Harriet Klausner

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