Friday, October 9, 2015

Book Review Friday: The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation
By Erika Swyler

Long Island librarian Simon Watson receives a mysterious book in the mail that seems to explain his family’s history.  It’s a history of mermaids, women who work in carnivals as swimmers and breathe holders, women who die before they’re thirty by drowning and always on July 24th.  And now his sister is coming home in July and Simon is desperate to keep history from repeating itself.
Swyler tells two stories, that of Simon, a confused, depressed young man trying to cope with his own personal tragedies; and his ancestors who worked in traveling carnivals and had tragedies of their own.  The pace and the tension build as the stories converge.  The author uses elements of magical realism to tell her tale of carnivals, tarot, and most important the ties that bind families together.
The details of Long Island locales were great except that Swyler's view of how libraries in Suffolk County are run is more imagination than reality.  And as a librarian in Suffolk County I'm in a position to know.  But once I decided to suspend disbelief over that little detail I enjoyed the story very much.  I listened to the audio narrated by Ari Fliakos.  He did a great job.  If you like audiobooks give this one a try.

For more stories with touches of magic you may like:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

For more books about librarians, you may like:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Murder Past Due by Miranda James

For books set on Long Island try:

The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra

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