The Book of Speculation (Erika Swyler)


Why did you choose this book?

I read the synopsis somewhere and thought it sounded amazing.  The cover art is pretty sweet also.

What’s it about?

Simon Watson, a librarian living in a house on a cliff, comes home one day to find a package on his doorstep.  It’s a journal detailing the operations of a traveling circus in the late 1700s.  Some of the names in the book are familiar, and research on other names leads Simon to discover that all of the women in his family (many of whom performed in circuses as mermaids) have died by drowning on July 24th, his mother included.  It’s already July and his sister is behaving oddly…is Simon’s family cursed?  If so, can he save her?

The alternating chapters of the book are told from the perspective of Amos, a mute boy who performed as a Wild Boy and tarot reader for the traveling circus described in the journal.  He falls in love with another mysterious performer, the circus’s mermaid, despite the warnings of his tarot-reading mentor.  How does Amos’s story intersect with Simon’s?

Category time!

This one is another hard one.  There are some seemingly magical elements, but I would call it fiction rather than fantasy.

Other recommended reads?

I would imagine the circus theme would parallel well with things like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Deasley, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, although I haven’t read any of those novels myself.

Final thoughts? 

Oh my gosh this book was so good!  There are illustrations by the author throughout the book, which are kind of amateurish, but I really loved the story from both perspectives.  It was creepy and endearing at the same time.  Maybe I’m biased because I’m also a librarian, but I also loved the idea of paging through a historic book and conducting research into this age-old mystery.  So very good!!!

Next up?

 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


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