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Maximum Shelf: THE BOOK OF SPECULATION

MaxShelf-BookOfSpeculation“I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family…”

Last week’s Maximum Shelf Awareness featured a first novel near and dear to our hearts (and librarians’ hearts): THE BOOK OF SPECULATION by Erika Swyler.

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off to join the circus six years ago.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things—including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned—always on July 24, which is only weeks away.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he stop it in time to save Enola?

“The meandering plot offers many charms: likable, quirky librarians; circus menageries and freak shows; love stories; tarot cards and trickery; mysticism; family secrets; and prickly sibling love—all accompanied by the author’s illustrations. [Swyler also painstakingly hand-bound, gilded and aged her manuscript submissions, in imitation of the old book in her story.] In short, THE BOOK OF SPECULATION, like the book at its center, promises to grasp the reader with a supernatural force and not let go.” — Shelf Awareness

See the full summary, review and interview with Erika Swyler on Shelf-Awareness.com.

download review copy edelweissAvailable for download on Edelweiss. (Don’t see the green button? Get whitelisted.)

Praise for THE BOOK OF SPECULATION:

“Fans of historical novels, especially titles with circus themes or touched with a hint of the supernatural such as Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Katharine Dunn’s Geek Love, or Katharine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, won’t want to leave this festival.” — Library Journal

“[A] whimsically dark debut….” — Publishers Weekly

THE BOOK OF SPECULATION will be available from St. Martin’s Press on June 23, 2015.

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