Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Evil Eye, by Jason Goodwin

An Evil Eye, by Jason Goodwin

My mother gave me a signed copy of this for Christmas, and I'm glad she did. Set in the 19th century Ottoman empire, An Evil Eye has an unlikely hero: a eunuch detective named Yashim in the Sultan's court. The plot revolves around the defection of an admiral and the unlikely deaths of women in the seraglio. The story meanders a bit, but I found it held my interest throughout. Where Goodwin truly shines, though, is in his scenic descriptions: "In snow, Istanbul transformed itself from a city of half a million people into a fantastic forest running down to an icy shore: its domes were the earthworks of a vanished race of giants, its minarets gaunt boles of shattered trees, its roofs, blanketed under a rippling veneer of snow, terraced fields marked only by the arrowed tracks of birds and the dimpled pawprints of hungry cats." This is but one of the many passages that make this part of the world seem unique and fantastic. Turns out An Evil Eye is the fourth in a series; I look forward to the others.

First Sentence:
The yali is made of wood silvered by the sun, dry as tinder.

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