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
"Dazzling...[a] quirky, raucous, and bewitching family saga." --Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
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 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.
David Pittu is a two-time Tony nominee, and has narrated over 36 audiobooks, including Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which earned an Audie for literary fiction and best male narrator. His other work includes The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer. Pittu has also read for Rick Riordan, Ann Rice, and Keigo Higashino, among others.
Well-known for his work in theater, Pittu has appeared off-Broadway in LoveMusik and Is He Dead, for which he received his Tony nominations, as well as Parade, for which he earned a National Broadway Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He is also a writer, member, and director of the Atlantic Theater company. He lives in New York City.
Katherine Kellgren has recorded over 200 audiobooks and won four Audie Awards, three ALA Odyssey Honors, and eight AudioFile Earphones Awards. In 2011, Kellgren was named the Best Voice in Young Adult & Fantasy, and she won the Audie award for Best Female Narrator in both 2013 and 2014. Kellgren has also appeared onstage in London, New York and Frankfurt. She has recorded numerous plays and dramatizations of novels for the radio, including winners of the Peabody Award. She is a graduate of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In naming Kellgren a “Golden Voice,” AudioFile magazine noted that she is a "marvel with accents...she is definitely a narrator to keep an ear out for." She lives in New York City.
Ari Fliakos is an actor with experience in television, radio, film, theater, and voiceovers. His narration of Seth Patrick’s Reviver won an Audie for paranormal fiction. He has narrated Black Site and Tier One Wild by Dalton Fury, as well as Gangster Squad, The Inquisitor, and Shotgun Lovesongs. On screen, he is best-known for his roles in Law & Order, Pills, and Company K.
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