Intrigue, mysterious portends, and revolution are all a part of the background to The Stockholm Octavo, set in 1791 Sweden. Emil Larsson our protagonist is a young bureaucrat in Office of Customs and Excise who spends his evenings drinking and gambling in various establishments around town. He has many talents and those have helped him make a lucrtaive connection with the owner of one such establishment, Mrs. Sparrow. Although Emil is happy with his life, he realizes that he does need to move on, get married, and become a solid citizen, as his boss keeps encouraging him to do. But just when he feels he has found the woman of his dreams, Mrs. Sparrow performs a Octavo for him in which she lays out 8 cards that portend his future and the people who will help him achieve the “golden path of love and connection” that she foresees in the cards for him.
Emil has certain ideas about who each of these people might be but soon finds that the people he initially thought might be a part of his Octavo are not a part of his “golden path” at all. In the process of trying to find his real eight, Emil helps Mrs. Sparrow win a very famous fan in a game of cards and soon becomes involved in a major intrigue that threatens the Swedish monarchy. While trying to find out who is plotting the over throw of the government, Mrs. Sparrow makes the important discovery that not only is her Octavo connected to Emil’s Octavo but through Divine Geometry they are only one small part of a larger Stockholm Octavo formed at this critical juncture in history.
Engelmann does a great job in bringing this period of history to life. Her characters are interesting and the scenes where she describes how to use a fan properly are quite delightful. She uses the fact that King Gustav was actually murdered at a masked ball in 1792, to good use and the consequences of that for the people of Sweden become very real.
The idea of inter-connectedness is a fairly common theme but Englemann’s use of the cards and the idea of the Octavo stretching out infinitely at a certain point in history was an interesting idea, and her use of that as a metaphor for finding the people in our lives that can help us achieve what we are called to do in crucial moments, a profound one.
Brenda’s Rating: ****(4 out of 5 Stars)
Recommended for: Sharon, Marian and Lauren
Book Study Worthy: Yes
Read in ebook format.