The Bibliophiliac’s Corner: “The Book of Speculation”
By Amanda Merriman
Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books. It has been this way nearly all her life. Every month she shares what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in the obsession too.
Erika Swyler’s interestingly named first novel, “The Book of Speculation,” has all the makings of a great read. Librarians, mermaids and curses – oh my! There are so many themes abounding in this book. As I read this dual narrative tale, I was drawn in. The present day storyline involves Simon Watson, a socially clueless librarian who lives in the house he grew up in. His parents have passed away and his sister Enola has run away with the circus, leaving Simon behind. Simon’s home seems to be a symbol of the state of his family as it has been badly neglected and is in the process of literally falling apart into the sea. Simon’s life however, is changed when a book collector sends him a fragile, water damaged log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the late 1700s. This glimpse into the scintillating lives of the people in the carnival makes up the second storyline. Simon becomes obsessed with the book when he discovers it is about his ancestors. All the women in his family have been circus mermaids and had ended up drowning on July 24. Coincidentally, in the present day story, this date is fast approaching, and Simon worries for Enola.
The book’s beginning and middle had a ton of momentum and buildup. Unfortunately, the ending fell a little flat. The characters from the past seemed much more colorful to me than the present day ones. The book also felt a little dark and lonely at times, though not to the point where it became unbearable. I enjoyed “speculating” about the family’s apparent curse and reading about old-time carnies. The magical side of the story was written in a way that really drew me in. Overall, The Book of Speculation was a solid read with the exception of the ending, in my opinion.
Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, feel free to join in the dialogue. Blog your thoughts and feedback at www.castlepinesconnection.com and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar. Have you read a great book recently? Email your find to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.