Friday, February 18, 2011

THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL - Michael David Lukas

First line: "Eleonora Cohen came into this world on a Thursday, late in the summer of 1877."

Eleonora Cohen is born under exceptional circumstances, so her exceptional abilities should have come as no surprise to her father and step-mother. However, her special abilities taint her in the eyes of her step-mother, prompting Eleonora to stow away on the ship taking her father to Stamboul. In Stamboul, Eleonora experiences some of the finer things in life, her studies are encouraged and she captures the attention of the Sultan.

THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL isn't a crime fiction novel. There are elements of crime, deception, spying, but those elements don't seem to go anywhere. I was waiting for something to emerge from all the spying and insinuations, but nothing happens. Even Eleonora's interactions with the Sultan are anti-climatic. So, overall the plot fell flat for me.

The characters, however, are brilliantly created and would have been spectacular in a more intriguing plot. Eleonora takes on an almost fairy-tale-like persona with a step-mother who doesn't understand her, an adventure to a foreign land, an inquisitive nature. The Sultan and his mother have a wonderful relationship and you can just imagine the Sultan rolling his eyes behind her back. The Sultan's adviser, Jamaludin Pasha, has an Iago-istic aura.

The tone and atmosphere are beautifully rendered and the reader can easily imagine him/herself transported to a distant time and place. Eleonora's mystic qualities also contribute to the Middle Eastern feel of the story. THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL really has the makings of a great novel, but it just felt as though it wasn't finished, which may also be my strong interest in the crime fiction genre and a desire for more action taking place.

My review is part of THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL blog tour from TLC Book Tours. To examine some other viewpoints on this novel, check these additional stops on the tour:
THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL is available from HarperCollins (ISBN: 978-0-062-01209-8).


Lesa February 18, 2011 at 7:57 AM  

Ah, a blog tour! I wondered why you were reviewing this, Jen, because I knew it wasn't crime fiction. You do crime fiction almost 100% of the time.

Jen Forbus February 18, 2011 at 12:29 PM  

Ha! Lesa I actually requested this book from Harper thinking there was a crime element to it. And there is a hint of it, but not enough for my tastes, I guess. I did love the characters, though. :-)

heathertlc February 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM  

I'm glad you were able to enjoy and appreciate the characters even if you didn't really love the plot.

Thanks for being on the tour.

Beth F February 19, 2011 at 8:34 AM  

Despite the mixed reviews, I am so curious about this one.

Swapna March 3, 2011 at 9:46 AM  

I agree with you - the plot was completely flat for me, but I absolutely loved the atmosphere and descriptions!!

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