ARC: The Book of Speculation

This tale of mermaids and tarot cards has mystery and fantasy combined. #spon | A book review from Newbery and Beyond

Note: I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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 to join the circus six years ago.
One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep. 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 stop it in time to save Enola? (Summary via

I requested this book from NetGalley on a whim, because what book lover doesn’t want to read about an old, mysterious book that starts an adventure? I didn’t know much about the book, but the atmosphere of it sounded cool. And it was–but the plot left me feeling slightly disappointed.

In this book, Simon is a librarian living in a crumbling house by the sea. When he receives said mysterious old book, sent to him by a bookseller because it has the name of Simon’s relative written inside, he begins to learn more about his family’s past. His mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all mermaids and tarot card readers with the circus, and now Simon’s sister is too, though she refuses to do a mermaid act. All of these relatives drowned, despite their ability to hold their breath underwater for long periods of time, and when Simon sees this pattern, he begins to worry about his sister.

Along with all of this present day stuff, there is a plot set in the past, with a mute boy and a girl with a dark history. This plot line, of course, is gradually connected with Simon’s present-day research.

Although I enjoyed the story, I never felt like I needed to finish it. It wasn’t compelling enough to hold my attention for long, unfortunately. Check it out if you like fantasy and mystery and don’t mind a slow moving plot.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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