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The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack: A Book Review

The Fortune Teller
Author: Gwendolyn Womack
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal
Publisher: Picador
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Pages: 369
Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: FROM THE AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE MEMORY PAINTER COMES A SWEEPING AND SUSPENSEFUL TALE OF ROMANCE, FATE, AND FORTUNE.

     Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts—and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

     The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

     The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

     My Review: Semele is an appraiser of manuscripts at an auction house. One day, while helping her client, Theo, with an auction, she discovers an ancient manuscript that appears to be written during the time of Cleopatra. Semele is excited about her latest find. However, when she reads the manuscript, she notices how unusual it is.The manuscript chronicles the events two thousand years after Cleopatra and seems to be writing this directly to Semele. As Semele ponders over this manuscript, she learns that she may be in great danger because there is another who is also after the fortune teller’s manuscript.

    Semele was a hard character for me to like. She did not have a backbone in her body. She never really took control of the situation. Her actions were very cowardly. She ran away from every problem that is facing her. She pushed her adopted mother aside and avoided her boyfriend because she was afraid to tell him quits. I thought that seeing her boyfriend’s future was a weak excuse to break up with him. She should have been honest that she didn't like him but Theo. Semele was also judgmental, selfish, and jealous. Thus, Semele was a frustrating character, and I didn't think she deserved a happy ending because she was mean to others.

     I didn’t like any of the characters. Ionna was interesting, but she was not given any depth. It never really explained how she could see beyond the future. I also didn’t buy her telling what will happen in the future two thousand years before her time. While she may see beyond the future, there were so many events that happened in between that for a person living in Cleopatra’s time could barely fathom it much less comprehend it. Therefore, I could not buy that Ionna was narrating the events that happened in the future. It would have been more believable if Ionna’s descendants added to the manuscript to explain the events. Theo was an average cliched love interest, who didn’t serve any other purpose to the story except to be the one that Semle falls for.

   Overall, this book has romance, mystery, and action. However with all these elements, it was a bit underwhelming. The plot itself of the tarot cards was also never explained. It just pops up halfway and never really states how they were created or why they were important. The ending felt anti-climactic and the villain seemed very cartoonish rather than complex. The Fortune Teller has the makings of a great story. However, it never felt complete. Instead, it was very rushed. The ideas were never really explored. While the story is very fast-paced, it never fully gripped me. There needed to be complex characters, more explanation about origin of the tarot cards and how Ionna got her gifts as a fortune teller, and a more developed romance. This was really a disappointment for me. I loved Mrs. Womack’s debut of The Memory Painter, and I was excited to see the next novel she had in store for us. However, The Fortune Teller did not meet my expectations. I will recommend this book for fans of The Lost Sisterhood, Lady of Hay, and Mariana. However, for those who wants to see Mrs. Womack’s true talent, I suggest skipping this and read The Memory Painter instead.

Rating: 2½  out of 5 stars

This is the official book trailer for Gwendolyn Womack's The Fortune Teller:


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