June 22, 2015

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler


Man, I am on a string of good books with an elegiac tone. Also, this is another book told from dual perspectives. Let me tell you about it.

Simon is a poor librarian in a tiny town in Vermont. His house, which he inherited from his parents, sits on the edge of a bluff and is rapidly deteriorating. His sister, Enola (I know. Who names their kid that?) left home as soon as she could and rarely is in contact with him. A random antique bookseller sends him an old book because he found Simon's grandmother's name in the book. He thought Simon might be interested. The book turns out to be a daily log from a traveling circus (what is it with traveling circus books lately? Amirite?)

The other story is that of the circus traveling around the Eastern Seaboard in the late 1700s. Amos was a feral boy until he came across the circus. Mr. Peabody took him in and gave him a job in the circus. He grows up in the circus and falls in love with The Mermaid.

The stories are told in alternating chapters, which sometimes makes it hard for me to keep track of the most recent events in each story, but I only noticed that once in this book. The writing is generally smooth and flowing like the rivers the circus follows throughout. My only complaint is being hit over the head with the symbolism in some places. The mermaid women can all hold their breath for astonishingly long times. They all also die very young. From drowning. On July 24th. These points were hammered home over and over and over. It seemed like the author was afraid I would forget this important piece of information.

SPOILER ALERT Don't read this paragraph if you don't want to be spoiled Simon is worried that his sister is going to kill herself on July 24. She's coming home after years of being away, and she's acting strangely. He is determined to break the curse the family is clearly under. Only it never occurs to him that he could be the one intended to die. His sister at least takes precautions to protect herself. After the author beats you over the head with the similarities, it's hard to miss the fact that it's him. That was a little frustrating.End of Spoiler

I tore through the whole book in one day. The secondary characters are amazing. They have real emotions and flaws. Enola's boyfriend is really interesting. After I finished it I went to sleep piecing it all together in my head.

8/10 bookmarks.

This book will be released on June 23.

I received this book from Netgalley.com for an honest review.