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The Book of Speculation

by Erika Swyler

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler X
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
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  • Dorian B. (Bainbridge, NY)
    An Extraordinary Family Tale
    The Book of Speculation draws you in from the beginning and does not disappoint. An excellent book club choice, multi-layered with the feel of a familiar yet fantastical tale. The author uses alternating voices to connect the past and future, threading the characters lives together. The reference to the early "circus" life, the love of old books, and the East Coast settings help to give the reader the feel of traveling through a part of American history.
  • Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)
    The Book of Speculation
    I have mixed feelings about this book. I am not into tarot cards or mystical stories and I don't care for carnivals (or circuses). So, I can't say that it was a novel that I connected with The parts of the book dealing with tarot cards and the mystical or magical elements of the story just didn't hold my interest. Regardless, I did find descriptions of the early traveling carnival life interesting (a different time and place).

    I did like the author's style and I thought the book was very well written. Personally, it just wasn't "my thing".
  • Mary H. (Phoenix, AZ)
    Time, Tarot and Low Tide
    The characters in this novel are all travelers. Simon and his sister, Enola desperate to keep some resemblance of a family unit. The carnival workers, both past and present all play important roles. Independent, some more talented than others but they are intertwined to weave an intriguing story of how past events may, or may not contribute to future events.
    The Tarot cards played an important part in deciphering these outcomes. A circus journal describes the daily atmosphere of all performers, these people were a makeshift family and they relied on each other for support. Who knew the descendents of this carnival family would continue with some of the same traits and creative outlets. Can the outcome be predicted? Do you belive in fate or destiny? The story will keep the reader wondering.
  • Colleen T. (Lakewood, CO)
    The Book of Speculation
    This first time author has written a well thought-out and fascinatingly complex story of family and friends, both past and present, and the idea of the power of words and desires and how careful a person needs to be with their desires or wishes for other people. The story describes how a person's desires for a loved one can negatively affect not only the affected person but also how it can affect present and future generations. I really enjoyed that the story contains concepts of libraries, books, carnival life and the Tarot cards. I enjoyed the characters and the way the author advanced the story from past to present and with the past intruding into the present in a very intricate fashion. I highly recommend this book.
  • Kristine M. (Marion, IL)
    Wonderful Read!
    I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I gave a satisfied sigh when I closed the cover. I do like books with multiple time periods but often one story is more interesting than the other. In this case both stories were equally engrossing. I found it well written and filled with lots of the elements that draw me into a book: antique journal, crumbling family home, mysterious deaths, odd coincidences, magic and folklore. It put me in mind of The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, but it had a charm all its own. Highly recommended.
  • Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
    The Book of Speculation
    When I received this book, included in the package was a bookket by the author, Erika Swyler, titled "Adventures in Making a Fake Old Book," which chronicled her ventures while actually making and aging blank books, from the paper itself to the bindings; she eventually gave these books to friends as gifts. I knew from reading this little booklet that I was going to enjoy her writing style. It was engaging, personable, detailed without being overly so, and a delight! Then I dove into The Book of Speculation, pun intended as this deals with a family line of 'swimmers,' those who were mermaids in the old traveling circus shows, who could hold their breath for 10 minutes underwater, those who felt as one with the water. This particular family history was discovered when a antiquarian bookseller sends an old book to Simon, which contains his family history. While I continued to enjoy Ms. Swyler's writing style, and her characters were well-drawn and complete, there is a lot of disfunction in this family, going back several generations and it is quite dark. A family home literally falling into ruin, family secrets involving neighbors, family members running away to join the circus, all make for an interesting, well-written yet somewhat disturbing read.
  • Jennifer G. (Arlington, VA)
    Draws you in and gives you a rich journey
    I enjoyed this book and I was drawn in immediately. Water for Elephants came to mind as I read the circus portions of the story. This is a satisfying read that blends past, present, mystery, ancestry, and family. It's a great ride populated with memorable characters. Well done.

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