The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler


  • My rating: 4 Stars91A8+mFtlxL
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Pages: 339 Pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Spoiler-free review

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

My Review

I am totally a sucker for Target Book Club picks. After the success of the last couple of books, I definitely trust them. This was a unique, evocative read that I wanted to savor.

Let’s start off with the writing itself, which was extremely gorgeous. The imagery used set a vivid atmosphere full of fantasy and wonder. There were lines that actually gave me goosebumps. Even if the content was total trash (which it wasn’t), I might have given this book four stars simply on the basis of beautiful prose.

Like the worldbuilding, the character development was almost flawless. The characterization was very indirect, but by the end of the book I had found a little piece of myself in all of the characters. They felt raw enough to be real, which made all of their actions that much more believable. I fell in love with them as well as their struggles and story. Plus, this was definitely written after a bookworm’s heart–there’s an antique bookseller, a librarian, a tarot reader, mermaids, and other super cool people who add a lot of diversity and uniqueness.

That being said, this book is by no means fast-paced or adventurous. The plot is a little slow, but I honestly didn’t mind it. The story was intriguing enough that I wanted to keep reading, but it wasn’t a page-turner. I would compare it to The Night Circus, which was gorgeously written if you were patient enough to get through it.

Overall, I would recommend this book to lovers of well-thought out characters and languorous but intriguing plot–if you are looking for something a bit more exciting, this is not for you.

6 responses to “The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler”

  1. Excellent review! Thanks for pointing out the pace of the plot.. I like fast paced more than slow.. I also liked The Night Circus a lot. The writing was beautiful. I just didn’t like the open ended on some characters and the ending is left open for interpretation.. I need an epilogue haha..

    Liked by 1 person

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