Novel Thoughts: The Oracle of Stamboul

Michael David Lukas weaves a mystical tale inThe Oracle of Stamboul, chronicling the life of young Eleonora as she contemplates the world and the people in it. Accused of being both a prodigy and a spy, Eleonora copes with tragedy and happiness and ultimately takes her destiny in her own hands.

Lukas does a good job of lending his novel a sense of the mysticism often associated with folk literature of the Middle East. The Oracle of Stamboul employs the curious and fascinating qualities of the geographical region without being heavy-handed to the point of distraction.

Repetition is used throughout the book in the form of ideas (“There was only one rule, and Eleonora broke it.”) and gestures (putting one’s thumb and forefinger on the bridge of one’s nose). While commonly used in folk tales, the device seems rather tedious at times when utilized in this way in a novel-length text.

Lukas does a good job of providing readers with conflict and rising action in the beginning of his novel; however, the falling action and resolution are somewhat anticlimactic. Details go unexplained, and character functions are glibly dealt with often leaving us with more questions than answers. While some readers may find this negligence prohibits full engagement with the text, others may find the reading experience enhanced by the abundance of mystery both in the rising action and in the resolution.

Ultimately, The Oracle of Stamboul provides readers with a fantastic fictional experience filled with magical realism that will encourage them to question which events are real and which are the product of the author’s imagination.