The mysterious east

 The Oracle of Stamboul is an engaging debut novel by Michael David Lukas. It took him seven years to write it. It is set in the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth century.

It tells the story of Elenora Cohen a young Jewish girl with astonishing intellectual gifts. Elenora is the daughter of a mild-mannered Jewish carpet merchant.
 
Two Tarter midwives mysteriously appear to assist at Elenora’s mother give birth to her while Russian soldiers attack the Romanian city in which she is born. Her birth is also attended by flock of birds and a herd of horses that converge outside the house where Elenora is born. We find out later that the animals are part of a prophecy about the birth of an important seer.
 
Elenora’s mother dies in childbirth from complications, and Elenora’s harsh, bourgeois aunt takes her place. After marrying Elenora’s father (a custom at the time), her aunt tries to raise her unusual niece.
 
Her aunt is harsh and unimaginative, but she also has good reason to want to avoid attracting attention. During this time there was a vicious wave of anti-Semitism in the area, Jews were often persecuted and killed in pogroms.
 
As a young child, Elenora displays an unusual and unsettling affinity with wild animals. Her aunt tries to stifle her by restricting her access to books, but it is too late; once Elenora learns to read, her curiosity is unstoppable. Under her father’s tutelage, she begins to master languages and mathematics.
 
Faced with her father’s departure to Turkey for business, Elnora becomes inspired by romantic fairy tales, and stows away in one his trunks.
 
Once in Turkey, Elenora reunites with the elderly midwife who delivered her, and falls in love with the colourful and fascinating city of Istanbul. She begins to blossom, but when an act of terrorism claims her father’s life, she becomes the ward of her father’s friend and business partner Moncef Bey.
 
A grief-stricken Elenora is drawn is unwittingly drawn into a web of espionage and deception. Rumors about her abilities begin to circulate throughout the city, and she is summoned to see the Sultan. He is desperately looking for guidance, as his empire is being torn apart by competing foreign interests.
 
The Oracle of Stamboul is fascinating tale in a rich, exotic setting. Lukas maintains a sense of mystery and tension throughout the story, and never tells us too much. We are never sure if Elenora is prescient or just precocious. You never know who is a spy or just a pawn in the intrigue of Istanbul. This book will delight those who relish all things Eastern and mysterious.
 
 
The Oracle of Stamboul is an engaging debut novel by Michael David Lukas. It took him seven years to write it. It is set in the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth century.
 
It tells the story of Elenora Cohen a young Jewish girl with astonishing intellectual gifts. Elenora is the daughter of a mild-mannered Jewish carpet merchant.
 
Two Tarter midwives mysteriously appear to assist at Elenora’s mother give birth to her while Russian soldiers attack the Romanian city in which she is born. Her birth is also attended by flock of birds and a herd of horses that converge outside the house where Elenora is born. We find out later that the animals are part of a prophecy about the birth of an important seer.
 
Elenora’s mother dies in childbirth from complications, and Elenora’s harsh, bourgeois aunt takes her place. After marrying Elenora’s father (a custom at the time), her aunt tries to raise her unusual niece.
 
Her aunt is harsh and unimaginative, but she also has good reason to want to avoid attracting attention. During this time there was a vicious wave of anti-Semitism in the area, Jews were often persecuted and killed in pogroms.
 
As a young child, Elenora displays an unusual and unsettling affinity with wild animals. Her aunt tries to stifle her by restricting her access to books, but it is too late; once Elenora learns to read, her curiosity is unstoppable. Under her father’s tutelage, she begins to master languages and mathematics.
 
Faced with her father’s departure to Turkey for business, Elnora becomes inspired by romantic fairy tales, and stows away in one his trunks.
 
Once in Turkey, Elenora reunites with the elderly midwife who delivered her, and falls in love with the colourful and fascinating city of Istanbul. She begins to blossom, but when an act of terrorism claims her father’s life, she becomes the ward of her father’s friend and business partner Moncef Bey.
 
A grief-stricken Elenora is drawn is unwittingly drawn into a web of espionage and deception. Rumors about her abilities begin to circulate throughout the city, and she is summoned to see the Sultan. He is desperately looking for guidance, as his empire is being torn apart by competing foreign interests.
 
The Oracle of Stamboul is fascinating tale in a rich, exotic setting. Lukas maintains a sense of mystery and tension throughout the story, and never tells us too much. We are never sure if Elenora is prescient or just precocious. You never know who is a spy or just a pawn in the intrigue of Istanbul. This book will delight those who relish all things Eastern and mysterious.
 
 

 

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