THE BOOK OF SPECULATION by Erika Swyler

BookOfSpeculation
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: June 23, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

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


THE BOOK OF SPECULATION is an impressive debut novel by Erika Swyler. As a book nerd, the story resonated with me. Anything about books, right? The author beautifully blended magical realism, historical fiction, and mystery to create an amazing Gothic tale about a family cursed for centuries.

I enjoyed the somewhat quirky main character Simon Watson. Simon is a young librarian, around 30, who seems better suited to have lived before the digital age. He receives a mysterious book, a very old circus ledger actually, with his deceased grandmother’s name in it. The women in his family, though blessed with a special ability, have been cursed for centuries to die young. Simon is tasked with deciphering the meaning of the book before his sister becomes the curse’s next victim.

The language in this book is gorgeous and lyrical, and I loved the haunting Gothic feeling of the story. While the plot is not fast-paced, I stayed hooked to the very end. Some elements in this book reminded me of Alice Hoffman’s writing, which I always enjoy. It gives an interesting look into the world of tarot card reading too. 4.5-stars!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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7 thoughts on “THE BOOK OF SPECULATION by Erika Swyler

  1. I like your review style, Diana. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.

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