Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Martin Churchwarry has made an odd discovery - amongst a lot of books purchased at auction is a strange volume, damaged and unsalable but utterly fascinating. Churchwarry is so taken by the tome that he wants to put it in the hands of someone who might appreciate it. He discovers a name in the book: Verona Bonn. Bonn, deceased, was a circus performer whose history leads Churchwarry to Simon Watson. 

Watson, a reference librarian and Verona Bonn's grandson, never knew his grandmother. He can't imagine what connection the book might have to her or to his family, but he is curious about the volume, a logbook from Peabody's Portable Magic and Miracles - a circus troupe dating back to the eighteenth century. As he spends more and more time with the book, Simon's life becomes increasingly strange and seemingly cursed by tragedy. But as things around Simon crumble, he realizes that this curse is one that has followed his ancestors for generations. With this realization comes the certainty that the book could be the key to finally breaking the curse, but only if he can discover the answer before it claims another victim. 

If you love the lure of old books and stories about long lost secrets, you will adore The Book of Speculation. It's a magical read broken into two parallel narratives - that of Simon, today, and Amos, a member of Peabody's back in the 1700s. There are mermaids, Romany mysticism, Tarot, and - of course - that curse I mentioned in the synopsis. There's also a crumbling old house in danger of tipping into the ocean and a family plagued by the weight of its own history.

I'm pretty amazed that this is a first book. It's not Erika Swyler's first published work, but it is her first novel and it is brilliant. This is a book created by a mind that conceived of pitching it to publishers in the form of her own hand made - bound, aged, and etched - volume. Seriously, that's not only clever it's dedication! (And not something I'd recommend making a trend. You can check out her posts outlining the tedious adventure here.) It worked, though. And now we all have the chance to experience the magic of this fabulous tale. 

 Rating: 4/5

Readers, the publisher is offering a truly fabulous giveaway for one of Swyler's handmade manuscripts! You can check out the dets and enter to win here.


Anonymous said...

I have read so many great things about this book. I wasn't aware that it is a first published novel.

Becky LeJeune said...

Yep! She's been published before - in anthologies and such - but this is her first released novel. It's fabulous, Suzi!