Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation
This book has two parallel stories going on, one of which is much stronger/more interesting than the other (at least to me). In the current time, Simon, a librarian at a failing library, who lives in a house that's about to crumble into the ocean, received a MYSTERIOUS book from a MYSTERIOUS bookseller (this guy is much more of a literary device than a character) that seems to be related to Simon's family history. See, he comes from a family of circus people--his female antecedents have all been mermaid acts--and each one has drowned on July 24th. Now his sister is coming home for the first time in years, and he's worried she'll be next. The other half of the story involves a traveling circus in the late 1700s (they're the story in the book he's received) and they are totally fascinating. Magic/magical realism is hinted at in Simon's story, but is much more overt in the other half. The problem is that Simon is a total sad-sack and doesn't deserve the good things that happen to him. The other problem is that I think this is supposed to be like a literary mystery, but Swyler doesn't do much to build any tension, and most of it is pretty predictable. I actually wish this had just been a book about a traveling circus in the late 1700s! Those characters were so much more compelling and way less overwrought. B.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in June.