Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review-The Book of Speculation


photoI recently read The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler.  It had me at "Book." Simon, a librarian (!), receives a book in the mail from Martin, a used book dealer. The book is handwritten, the earliest entries are from the 1700's. Martin sent the book because one of the women mentioned in it is an ancestor of Simon. The women in Simon's family are "swimmers"-people who can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes-who perform at carnivals as mermaids. Most of them also read tarot cards. Simon's younger sister works as a tarot card reader, but not as a mermaid. Simon realizes that all these women drowned themselves on July 24 and starts to fear for his sister. She, on the other hand, is worried about Simon because of her readings. The book alternates with this story and the story of a menagerie (or carnival) from the 1700's, owned by Peabody. He takes in a "wild boy" who cannot speak. His tarot card reader, Madame Ryzhkova, takes the boy under her wing and names him Amos and teaches him to read the cards. When a young woman appears out of nowhere Amos is enchanted but Mme Ryzhkova is horrified.

I enjoyed following the two stories and wondering how they would intersect. Each story was interesting in its own right. Each had a point where I had to cover the page so I wouldn't read ahead!

There is a hint of the supernatural in this book, so people who only like realistic fiction probably would not be happy with it. If you liked The Night Circus you'd probably like this one as well.
The Book of Speculation
The Book of Speculation
By Swyler, Erika
2015-06 - St. Martin's Press
9781250054807 Check Our Catalog


One of BuzzFeed's 24 Best Fiction Books of 2015
"As Simon, a lonely research librarian, searches frantically for the key to a curse that might be killing the women in his family, he learns strange and fascinating secrets about their past. A tale full of magic and family mystery, "The Book of Speculation" will keep you up all night reading." Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed
Simon Watson, a young …More



Complimentary Reads

The Night Circus
The Night Circus
By Morgenstern, Erin
2011-09 - Doubleday Books
9780385534635 Check Our Catalog

Awards:
Alex Awards (2012), Locus Awards (2012), Nutmeg Book Award (2014)

To enter the black-and-white-striped tents of Le Cirque des Reves is to enter a world where objects really do turn into birds and people really do disappear. Even though visitors believe the performances are all illusion, they are obsessively drawn to this extraordinary night circus. Those who run and perform in the circus are its lifeblood. Marco Alisdair runs the operation from London as …More


Geek Love
Geek Love
By Dunn, Katherine
2002-06 - Vintage
9780375713347 Check Our Catalog

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out-with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes-to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There's Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly …More


The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
By Howe, Katherine
2009-10 - Thorndike Press
9781410418951 Check Our Catalog

Written by an author completing a Ph.D. in New England Studies, and whose ancestors had been accused witches in Salem, "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" travels seamlessly between the trials in the 1690s and a modern woman's story of mystery and discovery. …More


Want to see all the staff picks?  In Encore (our catalog) search for HPL Staff Picks.
To sign up for this, or any of our newsletters, check out our Newsletter sign up page.