Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

What They Say.....I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family....

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 to join the circus six years ago.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon's doorstep. 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 stop it in time to save Enola? 

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

What I Say.....First off let me say, that I definitely enjoyed this book.  It was a great story, full of magic, mermaids, and curses.  In the beginning, it almost put me in mind of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

But at times it was hard to read, the overall feel of the book was super depressive.  I understand that the tone was supposed to be dark, but a little pick up in the tempo towards the middle would have made the story that much more enjoyable.

The romance between Simon and Alice seemed more a product of physical proximity than a real romance.  It felt awkward and forced.  

What did work was the storyline, and the way everyone's families intersected.  The mystery was solved and the curse was broken.  But I had figured out where the curse was anchored long before Simon seemed to.

I will definitely watch for this author in the future.  This was her first novel and I can't wait to see her  pacing improve to match her storytelling skills.

Current Goodreads rating....3.67

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