Thursday, 6 October 2016

Book Review--The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler is a tale about finding yourself through your history and overcoming the distant past.  It was thoughtful, well-rounded and excellently written.

The characters take on depth as the story unfolds and the reader is drawn into the history as the scenes flash back to previous generations, intertwining the past and the present.  The writing has just enough flowery detail to live in the moment but not so overdone as to be distasteful.  The historical portions are rendered with an eye to the details of the reality of living and don't romanticize the age of wagons and traveling shows. It delves into a little-understood lifestyle of traveling carnivals complete with tarot readers, mermaids and a wild boy.

I was drawn to check out this book because the main character is a librarian and so I felt some kinship and share his stated love of books and all things printed.  There are some twists and turns along the road before the characters end up at their ultimate destination. There is just enough question as to whether or not the incidences in the book are mere coincidence and superstition or actual mysticism that it kept me guessing.

The only fault I found with the writing was actually in the plot resolution/epilogue (I was listening to this on audio and Ari Fliakos once again does a nice job presenting the story but sometimes I miss if I'm in a chapter or the prologue/epilogue).  The entire present-tense aspect of the story is told from Simon's viewpoint but the last points are made through Alice which was a bit jarring but not enough to detract from the essence of the story.

Unfortunately, I didn't like it but that is a matter of personal taste and not due to the strong writing.   I know the darkness and despair of the characters is what gave it depth and moved the story along but it was just a bit too much for me to let myself be free to coast with the story; I was ever-tense for the next bout of darkness. 

As always, though, you read and you decide!

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