Simon’s house is caving in and falling down all at the same time. He’s lost his job, and there’s no money for repairs. His carny sister and her copiously tattooed carny boyfriend show up for a visit. He is dating the one girl he’s not supposed to date. Oh, and his mom committed suicide when Simon was a child, and his dad is gone, too.
Luckily a really weird book shows up just in time to distract him from the everything going wrong in his life.
The Book of Speculation flips between Simon’s modern day and the book he receives in the mail that once upon a time perhaps belonged to his grandmother – a “mermaid” in a circus, but dates much farther back than his grandmother’s time. As Simon delves into his family history he finds odd coincidences. In this, the story begins to weave a little magic. It doesn’t commit to anything, but there’s some there. I’ve seen the book called quirky, and that is apt, especially in its use of magic.
As a fan of tarot, I found the use in the story interesting, particularly using the deck to connect the stories. Overall, though, I felt underwater while reading – something kept me from connecting to the book in a deep way. Whether this was the unhurried storytelling or the flipping back and forth through time, I’m unsure. Maybe it’s just Simon himself, being at loose ends, and, perhaps, being the least interesting character in a novel full of compelling characters.