Review: The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack

May Contain Spoilers

When I was approached about reviewing this title, I was torn.  I am completely swamped with review books, and I was hesitant to add yet another commitment to my already full schedule. But I saw that part of the book takes place in my favorite time period, Ancient Egypt, and I couldn’t say no.  I’m glad I read the book. It was enjoyable, and I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise, as it was nowhere on my radar.

Semele works for an auction house, appraising and deciphering ancient texts.  When her job takes her to Switzerland to catalog and pack up the Brossard collection, she is thrilled.  The collection is massive and spans hundreds of years.  When Semele discovers a hidden manuscript, supposedly from the reign of Cleopatra, she is over the moon.  The manuscript tells the story of an ancient seer, Ionna, as well as an ancient deck of tarot cards. Once Semele finds the manuscript, strangers start following her, and someone breaks into her hotel room.  As the danger escalates, she frantically attempts to unlock the secret someone is trying to keep from her.

The story is told alternatively from Semele’s POV, as well as from the POV of Ionna and her descendants.  I found the structure compelling, and finished the book in only a few bursts of reading. Semele’s personal life is a mess, and I could instantly relate to a woman whose personal connections are going haywire. She hasn’t spoken to her mother in months, since her father died suddenly, leaving a gaping hole in both their lives.  Her boyfriend of two years is pushing for more commitment than she’s ready to give, and her career goes off the rails when she is abruptly yanked from the Brossard account. Then there’s Theo Brossard, a mysterious man who she feels like she’s known forever, and to whom she is instantly attracted to.

When a close friend is seriously injured while working with her to verify the authenticity of the manuscript, she knows she’s in serious trouble.  This is where the story fell off the rails for me.  I just did not buy into the villain of the piece, and the last few chapters lost their believability.  Overall, though, I couldn’t put it down and whiled away an enjoyable afternoon reading The Fortune Teller.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Semele Cohen appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, specializing in 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 cards? As the mystery of her connection to the manuscript 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 Brossard. 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 Brossard 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.