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The Stockholm Octavo

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  3,100 Ratings  ·  545 Reviews
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town--a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor--until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lea ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by Ecco (first published October 21st 2012)
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Richard Derus
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town—a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor—until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that a
On the outset, this seemed to be a book tailored for divination + mystery buffs like me. And historical fiction has always held its charm for me as I'm quite fond of ye olde days settings involving historical figures that add a layer of realism to a fantastical backdrop of a time long gone by.

Alas, the offerings fell short in this book, although it began very promisingly. The Stockholm Octavo narrates the adventures of a certain Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in 1791 Stockholm, in finding the 8 infl
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, fiction
This book starts quite promisingly, but I abandoned it two-thirds of the way through. It tells the story of Emil Larsson, an ambitious bureaucrat in Stockholm in 1791 who lacks only for a wife to solidify his social ascendance. At a fashionable gambling party, he meets Mrs. Sparrow, who lays a tarot-like "octavo" for him, which alludes to eight people who will influence his future. Now he has to discover who those eight people are and find out how they will connect him to his future wife. Meanwh ...more
Mysterious  Bookshop
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Although Ms. Engelmann has received numerous rave reviews for this debut novel, I wasn’t sure it was a book that would appeal to me. Boy was I wrong! Much like Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind, Engelmann’s The Stockholm Octavo covers a lot of ground: mystery, conspiracy, romance, adventure, etc., and it does so masterfully. The novel follows bureaucrat and man-about-town Emil Larsson in 18th century Stockholm. In an attempt to raise his station in life he contacts a fortune-teller named Mrs. Sofia Spa ...more
S.J.A. Turney
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Stockholm Octavo is a complex piece to consider or review. My opinion of the book has been high all the way through, though I have had trouble nailing down why I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Engelmann’s writing is fluid, graceful and highly emotive. It is very hard not to get sucked into the story and the prose that conveys it, and the descriptions, locations, activities and conversation evoke a feeling of another time and place, totally removed from the reader’s world. I suspect that this is
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I read it during the holiday season and found it to be exactly the “escape into the past” that I wanted. The plot is interesting and fun and well-paced throughout the novel, which by the end, is a stay-up- and- finish- it page- turner. On top of that (and for me, what makes this novel an absolute must-read), is the quality of writing. Engelmann has mastered the art of the sentence in a way that sets her apart from most modern authors and puts her up there with writers ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
It’s impossible to dislike a novel that has the following sentence – “The Uzanne and Cassiopeia fit together like lovers on a too small settee, knowing just how to move for maximum effect” (35).
It’s all the better because one of the characters above is a fan.
This is a book about fans, cards, Stockholm, and plots. It is all the more beautiful for not being perfect and for being about art in terms of craft and craft in terms of assassination.
Like the cards that are discussed in the book, the end
Robin Carter
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Im still not sure how and why i managed to read this book. Its nothing like any of the books i normally read, and i think i have a fairly eclectic taste in reading. This seems to be part historical fiction, part love story, part crime part mystery book. There are chapters in this book that just talk about fans, how they are made how they are used etc..The plot is quite slow at times, and makes the book very much a slow burn read.
But all of that said, you start with a very attractive book, no dus
I have very mixed thoughts on this book. I wanted it to be awesome but found myself disappointed. I should note that this was not bad and I did enjoy the book, I just thought it could have been better. It has an intriguing premise: a set of 8 cards specific to an individual, each card being a person and knowing every individual one can turn an event in their favor.

We are introduced to our protagonist - Emil Larsson, a Sekretaire in Customs and Excise, who has a talent for cards and keeping secre
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I was born, raised and educated in Iowa, concentrating on the visual arts. I have a BFA in design and drawing from the University of Iowa in Iowa City (missed the Writers Workshop altogether... too bad!) I then moved to Sweden to do graduate work in scene painting. I never completed that degree or painted a single set, but worked as an illustrator and designer in Malmö, Sweden for nine years. New ...more
More about Karen Engelmann...
“But there was change in the air, and whether for good or ill, change always quickens the pulse and sharpens the senses.” 0 likes
“People come into our lives without our bidding, and stay without our invitation. They give us knowledge we do not seek, gifts we do not want. But we need them all the same.” She” 0 likes
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