Bookworm, writer, radio host—I blog about history, fiction, and publishing in the Internet Age. You can find the full blog on my website. This space is for books.
From the blog post that accompanied my interview with the author, available at http://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/12/20/karen-engelmann-the-stockholm-octavo-ecco-books-2012/:
"It’s 1789, and despite the troubles in France, Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in the Customs Office in Stockholm, has life pretty much where he wants it. His job brings him lucrative under-the-table deals with pirates, smugglers, and innkeepers—not to mention a dashing red cape that appeals to the ladies—and he has managed to parlay his skill as a gambler into a partnership with the mysterious Mrs. Sparrow, owner of a prestigious private club dedicated to games of chance.
But when the head of the Customs Office announces that every sekretaire must marry if he wishes to keep his post, Emil sees his carefree existence slipping away. Mrs. Sparrow offers to help by casting an octavo—a set of eight predictive cards representing key figures whom Emil must identify and manipulate to achieve his predicted future of love and connection. As Emil moves about the Town (Stockholm), every encounter assumes new meaning. Is this his Prisoner? His Key? His Courier?
We don’t know, and neither does he. But as Emil’s quest continues, the stakes rise. The situation in France deteriorates; and the future of the Swedish monarchy and its king, Gustav III, increasingly hinges on Emil’s ability to decipher his octavo and influence the contest between Mrs. Sparrow and the fascinating Uzanne—mistress of the fan, foe of the king, and the person most likely to prevent Emil from attaining his goals."
A wonderful book. I highly recommend it!
**In the interests of full disclosure, let me mention that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but so that I could prepare for the interview, not for review.**