Shelf Control #335: The Book of Speculation by Erica Swyler

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Book of Speculation
Author: Erika Swyler
Published: 2015
Length: 339 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

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 six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.

One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. 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 get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?

In the tradition of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, The Book of Speculation–with two-color illustrations by the author–is Erika Swyler’s moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a paperback in 2016, and it’s been on my shelf ever since.

Why I want to read it:

As I’m writing this post, it occurs to me that perhaps I never even read the synopsis before today! The plot sounds kind of bonkers, in a really good way, but doesn’t seem in the slightest bit familiar. So, I’m thinking I may have grabbed this book at a library sale based solely on the cover. I mean, can’t go wrong with a book with books on the cover, right?

Now that I’ve read what it’s about, I’m much more interested in finally giving the book a try. Generations of circus mermaids? A mystery curse? Count me in!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

12 thoughts on “Shelf Control #335: The Book of Speculation by Erica Swyler

  1. Well, I’d be giving this book a space on a free public library, but you go for it! As you already know, I’m going to give away that trilogy that belonged to my husband (maybe one of his brothers wants them)!

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