Rambling about books

Book review: The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler

Book cover from Goodreads

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? (Goodreads)

I remember picking this book after I just finished The Night Circus last year, along with The Gracekeepers; considering that I was quite disappointed by how The Gracekeepers turned out, I’m not getting my hopes up with this book, I thought there would not be another book as magical as The Night Circus was for me. To put it simply, I was proven wrong. While it’s true that this book was not as magical as The Night Circus, this book was definitely very engaging, if it weren’t for work, I would have devour this book in a day (or probably two, why so ambitious?)

Onto the story, the book is divided into two parts story; the first story happens in the present time with Simon Watson at the centre stage, beginning with him receiving an old book which eventually will be the main theme of the entire story. The second story happens way back into the past with Amos at the centre stage. I don’t know what’s with past stories, but it almost always much more interesting than the present story. The people seems to be so much more magical and intriguing. One thing that I notice about this book was there was a strong loneliness ambience coming through like when I was reading The Gracekeepers, and I almost gave this book up; thankfully I didn’t because this turned out to be better than The Gracekeepers.

Here’s what I like most about the book, the title. The title was The Book of Speculation, the story centres itself on one book in particular. It follows the person who became speculative as he was reading the book, which lead to you (or me, or let’s just say the reader) became speculative also. The whole time I’m reading this book, I was going on my own journey (different from Simon) in trying to prove whether or not my speculation was correct. Now speaking of that, I was a bit bummed with the ending. The buildup of the book, leading to the last few chapters were definitely enjoyable, you really can’t put the book down, but then the ending fell flat for me. There were stuffs that were not answered yet (although, looking back I think the author had answered my questions, albeit vaguely), and I felt like there was a huge chunk of mystery still floating around somewhere. One other thing that I’m not happy about this book is the revelation of the present characters and their relations to the characters in the past; America is huge chunk of a place, what are the odds for these present day characters to reunite? Well, probably that was the magic in the book? Guess, I’ll have to keep on speculating about The Book of Speculation.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️☆

Title: The Book of Speculation

Author: Erika Swyler

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Goodreads link



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