Review: The Book of Speculation – Erika Swyler.

A young librarian is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. Simon lives alone in his cliff-side family home, overlooking the water in which his mother drowned in years before. He receives a book in the post from an antiquarian bookseller, inscribed with his grandmother’s name, leading to decode his family history and work out the connection to this book.

It starts off strong – the book’s arrival is the immediate hook you look for, and if it had kept up like that, then this would have been excellent. It seemed perfect for me, about an old, mysterious book, with flashbacks cutting back to a circus show years before.

So first 10% or so – excellent, consider me hooked; the ending was equally strong, with the action picking up and moving swiftly. But in between, I just couldn’t stay hooked. I don’t know what it was but I really just couldn’t stay in the book between the constantly jumping narrative between the two, and the link wasn’t as strong as I probably needed it to be to keep me there. The characters didn’t draw me in either, no matter how much I tried.

Having said that, the writing was gorgeous. I do think that while some elements of it didn’t work for me, the actual style was so lovely, even when it got really dark. So overall, just didn’t work for me, which seems a bit bemusing because it seemed an ideal book, but it is really well written, and I think I’d definitely read anything else from the author in future, because she does have a really good writing style!

23rd June 2015 | St. Martin’s Press

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