Thursday 4 February 2016

The book of speculation - Erica Swyler

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who discovers that his family labours under a terrible curse - for generations, the women in his family have died on the same date in July. Simon must set out to unravel the mystery of this curse, before his beloved sister suffers the same fate. 

Simon Watson 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. His younger sister, Enola, works for a travelling carnival and seldom calls.

On a day in late June, 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. The book tells the story of two doomed lovers who were part of a travelling circus more than two hundred years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes and sketches. He is fascinated, yet as he reads Simon becomes increasingly unnerved. Why do so many women in his family drown on 24th July? And could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in years, risk the same terrible fate?

As 24th July draws ever closer, Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before it's too late. 

My thoughts:
I do love magical realism, in all shapes and forms. Here at times I was convinced that magic was real, but then, maybe it all had a logical explanation after all. And hey that is what magical realism is all about.

It's story of Simon, who works at a library. Who lives in a house that is falling down a cliff. Who loves the water. Whose family life was not that happy since his mum drowned and his father never cared for anything else after that. I liked Simon and his need for knowing more. His relentlessness in finding the truth.

See the truth is that all women in his family drown, and on the same date. Why? Is there a curse? Something else? And he hunts for the truth when he gets a book where this becomes clear, and all to save his sister. It's July after all.

We also get to follow the first "mermaid" in the family 200 years back, their life at the circus, and why they know tarot cards. And there lies the magic. What happened? Magic my heart said, no there is something else to it said my brain. But I think I will leave it at magic. That one always win. And I love how it can be both and be believable. 

It is a wonderfully crafted tale, set in the past and present. Water is a powerful theme and flows through out the book. It is magical, sad and beautiful. 

A great book, and a good mystery. Recommended.

nice and simple

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2016 by Corvus (first published June 23rd 2015)
Magical realism /fiction
For review


  1. Sounds like it was a winner for you! And that cover is gorgeous:)

  2. I don't read much magical realism but this sounds like a nice story.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  3. Sounds wonderful. I do like magical realism, although I don't read much of it.

  4. Very intersting. Mermaid books don't usually work for me, but this one definitley sounds different.

  5. Magical Realism is my favorite genre!! This one sounds wonderful!

  6. I like magical realism as well - sound nice!

  7. It looks like a great story, I think I've already heard about it. Great review, thanks for sharing :)

  8. Please tell me his sister doesn't drown and is turned into a mermaid. Sounds fascinating story and I can go with magical realism.

    1. There are no mermaids in this book, only people who can hold their breath under water in a circus act :)

  9. Magical Realism eh? That could go either way for me. I'll have to wait to read more reviews and see, though this sounds very interesting and I love the cover.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  10. I love those 'is it or isn't it magic' stories. And it sounds a bit of a mystery, too.
    I'll have to put this on my list.

  11. I love magical realism and this sounds wonderful!!

  12. I can tell you really enjoyed this book! Love the cover. :D



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