Four stars, read March 2011.
The writing in The Oracle of Stamboul is as beautiful as the cover. I received an ARC from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, and even the package it arrived in was lovely. The story is unique—a young girl, born literally in the midst of violence (as her town is being plundered by an invading army), whose extraordinary intelligence is revealed as she grows up and becomes influential in the palace of the Sultan, the ruler of the dwindling Ottoman Empire. Big things happen in Eleanora’s life, and she is thrown into circles that will determine the course of history for a significant part of the world—but in the end, the story is really a simple one about a girl’s journey to discover who she is.
This is a sort of alternative historical fiction, but the descriptions of the culture are accurate and engaging. I sometimes get caught up in things I feel like I should be reading, and then, even though I do like the books, reading them starts to feel like a chore. The Oracle of Stamboul was not one of those books. Every time I had to put it down, I looked forward to getting to pick it up again, and I loved every minute of my reading.