“Unexpected. Picked it up on a whim, but thoroughly pleased with it. Would heartily rec to anyone who likes historical fiction.”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“I didn't like this one. It started out interesting but then if I put the book down and picked it back up I was confused about the story and then just didn't care.”see full review » see other reviews »
“The description sounded intriguing, but this historical conspiracy novel failed to deliver. The characters were interesting and well fleshed-out and the protagonist was compelling, but somehow the tarot framework didn't hold it all together as it should.”Shannolater wrote this review 4 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I found the setting of this tale to be of great interest to me...I love the landscapes of Scandinavia, and have never read any stories set there in this time period. It started off interesting, weaving together political intrigue, gambling, and oddly enough, ladies fashion accessories...in the form of the fan.
I had no idea how attached a woman of the late 18th century could be to her fan collection...there were favorites, that were actually given names. The fan that featured highly in this story was named "Cassiopeia" for its depiction of said constellation on its verso side. The baroness known simply as "The Uzanne" bestowed mystically magical powers to this fan, and when she lost it at the gambling tables, she would ruin anyone who kept her from its return to her collection.
Meanwhile, a secretaire, or Customs Agent, named Emil Larsson has had his "Octavo" laid for him by Mrs. Sparrow, the matron of a gambling establishment, a French emigre who is an ardent loyalist to Louis XVI. The Octavo is a kind of tarot reading, with cards drawn representing figures like "Companion" "Trickster" and "Magpie." Not only does Mrs. Sparrow manage a gambling salon, but she reads the future in cards, and also has visions that yield a theme to the cards she has laid. The Octavo of Emil Larsson is meant to lead to "love and connection."
Somehow, all of this involves the people representing the figures in Emil's Octavo in political scheming to rescue the French King Louis and to depose Sweden's King Gustav. Emil spends most of the book thinking the cards are pointing him toward the woman he should marry.
Somehow, I could not make all of the plot elements click. There was an interesting theme of how events of seeming small consequence in our own lives ripple to cause large changes in the world. I did also enjoy reading of Sweden in this time period, but overall I felt the book to be somewhat unbelievable in all of the suspension of disbelief that was expected of the reader.”
“Unexpected. Picked it up on a whim, but thoroughly pleased with it. Would heartily rec to anyone who likes historical fiction. ”Anti Meria wrote this review Thursday, October 3, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The Stockholm Octavo was a very interesting story that deviated from the norm in historical fiction. Emil Larsson is a bachelor who rises to the position of Sekretaire in late 18th-century Sweden. One night at a gambling house he frequents, the proprietor, Ms. Sparrow, reveals to him a vision that will lead him to love and connection, his octavo. From there, Emil searches for his eight people who will complete this vision, but along the way his octavo becomes intertwined with that of Ms. Sparrow's, and thus an entire web of political intrigue. Now Emil and Ms. Sparrow have to work together to stop a plot that could rock the very foundations of history.
Of course, if you know history, you kind of already know how it ends. But what really interested me in this story was the characters; they were very well portrayed! Each one was distinct and vibrantly colorful, making it easy to remember them. And believe me, with all the characters featured prominently in this book, that is quite a feat! My only issue with this book was that it relied a little more heavily on magic than I would have liked and kind of skimmed over the history aspect. Still, when reading it I felt like I was in the Town during that century and could picture the setting with exceptional clarity.”
“Fascinating cast of characters in several different classes of Stockholm society during the reign of King Gustav III. Everyone has overlapping relationships and plays a part, albeit different but completely vital, in each other's lives. The political intrigue of King Gustav's court is mainly played out in the "Town" using the all-important ladies' fan. Gamblers, amateur poisoners and struggling merchants & low-level bureaucrats - it's got it all!”Kirsty C wrote this review Saturday, April 27, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Tumultuous times in Sweden as King Gustave offends the aristocracy by limiting their powers and privilages and extends a limited participation in gov't by the commoners (and strengthening the monarch's powers), America has overthrown the monarchy and established a new form of gov't which allows a limited form of democracy, France is in turmoil with the Royalty imprisoned, the aristocracy being slaughtered in the streets, Russia lurks hoping to add Sweden to it's possessions.”Coalbanks wrote this review Tuesday, March 19, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A 5 star book for me is one that is both well written, and opens up new worlds. This book did both. It is full of humor, Dickensian characters, and a plot based on the actual assignation of Gustavo lll of Sweden. It sent me numerous times to my iPad for more information on the era. To my pleasure, it opened up the world of the history of "ladies fans" and seduction. There are poisons, of course, and the archetypical malevolent seductress. Throw in a little (what was considered magic at the time) geometry and tarot, and you have a great read. ”K.Albertson wrote this review Saturday, March 9, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Extremely entertaining story that gives a good sense of life in the late 18th century in Sweden and a fascinating view of the power of Tarot-like cards during that time period”Carol A wrote this review Tuesday, January 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I didn't like this one. It started out interesting but then if I put the book down and picked it back up I was confused about the story and then just didn't care. ”BookwormErin wrote this review Sunday, January 6, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No