The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation

eBook - 2015
Average Rating:
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One of BuzzFeed's 24 Best Fiction Books of 2015

"As Simon, a lonely research librarian, searches frantically for the key to a curse that might be killing the women in his family, he learns strange and fascinating secrets about their past. A tale full of magic and family mystery, The Book of Speculation will keep you up all night reading."--Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon's doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of "mermaids" in Simon's family have drowned--always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon's family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?

In the tradition of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, The Book of Speculation --with two-color illustrations by the author--is Erika Swyler's moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Publisher: St Martins Press,, 2015
ISBN: 9781466857797
146685779X
Call Number: EBOOK AXIS 360
Characteristics: text file,rda
1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360

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m
m0mmyl00
Aug 17, 2017

Simon is sort of hanging on to his heritage; living in his ancestral home that is swiftly crumbling into the sea, reluctantly in love with his childhood friend/next door neighbor, and directionless as far as the future goes -- an issue since he had to be laid off from his job in the library. He receives a mysterious old book in the mail one day, and is launched into an exploration of his family's history with traveling circuses. his mother was the last of a long line of "mermaids," performers who could hold their breath for a very, very long timed. The book appears to be a journal, one of the traditional records of traveling circuses from long ago. From it, he learns that on a particular day, every female in his family for generation have drowned, despite all being "mermaids" and thus excellent swimmers and breath-holders. Simon wants to keep this from happening to his sister, and the particular drowning day is just around the corner.

There's a love story woven into this book, and a mystery, and a touch of supernatural tarot magic. I enjoyed it, but it just didn't bring anything special to the experience of reading it. It wasn't a "page-turner;" the prose didn't sing; I was interested in what would happen next and what would eventually happen, but only mildly. It was a bit too dark to be considered light reading, but it really only skirted the darkness. I enjoyed it but would not recommend it.

coloradobuck Feb 21, 2017

If you are not into tarot cards and a ton of mentioning about death and curses, I would pass on this book although the "holding your breath under water" parts as well as the family piece of the novel were were endearing.

colleenb Jan 02, 2017

This book reminded me of all the elements of John Irving that I love. Worth a read.

JCLKatieS Jul 29, 2016

If my house was falling in and I had lost my job and my long-lost sister appeared out of the blue, I don't think I would become entranced in an old book about a traveling circus that mysteriously appeared on my doorstep. But that's exactly what Simon Watson does and the story that unfolds is magical. You won't be disappointed with this novel - I highly recommend it.

t
thomqui
Jul 02, 2016

A rich read. Incredible use of language and imagery, a glimpse into a world that is far beyond the 9 to 5 most of us experience.

Cynthia_N Jun 23, 2016

Enjoyable read! I like the way Library Journal described it in their review, "creates a melancholy world with hints of magic at the edges." The massive amounts of horseshoe crabs on the shore was just an added oddity for me!

r
ReadsintheDark
Jun 23, 2016

For readers that enjoyed Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, this book is for you. Infused with magic realism, the book takes the reader through a cursed family history. A wonderful glimpse into carnival history as well as a fun read for bibliophiles.

CMLReads_Kristin May 02, 2016

Circus mermaids, tarot card readers, and librarians intertwine in this tale shot through with magic realism. Alternating between the a late eighteenth century traveling carnival and a present day librarian trying to unravel his past, this will appeal to those who like historical narratives that follow families across generations.

cmlibrary_anickerson Mar 28, 2016

Predictable, but spellbinding for the most part. A dark tale, don't look to bond to any of the characters.

a
abcDena
Mar 15, 2016

If this wasn't a timely departure from real-to-life, bleak-as-bleak fiction for me, I might have been more critical. But, I kept on because I love any story set in a library or bookstore that includes some intrigue!

I could pick this apart if I wanted to, but it took me away for a few days. I'd compare Swyler to authors like Kate Morton and Kimberley Freeman, but with a big more magical realism. Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this one.

It's a really good book for a cloudy day.

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