"Simon Watson is a librarian living in a run down house on the edge of a cliff. He's just received a very strange & cryptic book that will change everything he thought he knew about his family. Simon's family is no ordinary family. They are mermaids and fortune tellers. They are carnival folk, and their history is contained in this newly acquired tome. While exploring its pages, Simon soon discovers that every woman in his family has mysteriously drowned on July, 24th. Could his sister, Enola, be next? In order to save her, Simon must decipher this book before time runs out. The Book of Speculation is mysterious, dark, magical and very hard to put down!" --Jen— From Jen's Staff Recommendations
July 2015 Indie Next List
“Hauntingly beautiful, The Book of Speculation weaves a spectacular multigenerational story of magic, love, betrayal, and redemption. The story follows Simon, a young librarian and the descendant of circus mermaids, whose family is steeped in loss. Alongside his story is woven another's: Amos, a mute boy from the 1700s with a special gift. As histories are unveiled and unlikely connections are discovered, Simon is sent a mysterious book with a sinister message. Can he discover the secret that haunts his family in time? Fantastical history, engaging characters, and a love of the written word combine in this compelling novel.”
— Jax Caldwell-Dunn (E), Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
One of BuzzFeed's 24 Best Fiction Books of 2015
**Includes a bonus short story by Erika Swyler, "The Mermaid Girl"**
"As Simon, a lonely research librarian, searches frantically for the key to a curse that might be killing the women in his family, he learns strange and fascinating secrets about their past. A tale full of magic and family mystery, The Book of Speculation will keep you up all night reading."--Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed
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.
About the Author
ERIKA SWYLER is a graduate of New York University. Her short fiction has appeared in "WomenArts Quarterly Journal," "Litro," Anderbo.com, and elsewhere. Her writing is featured in the anthology Colonial Comics, and her work as a playwright has received note from the Jane Chambers Award. Born and raised on Long Island's North Shore, Erika learned to swim before she could walk, and happily spent all her money at traveling carnivals. She blogs and has a baking Tumblr with a following of 60,000. Erika recently moved from Brooklyn back to her hometown, which inspired the setting of the book. "The Book of Speculation "is her debut novel.