Eve can’t remember who she is or where she’s from, but there are government agents with her, protecting her. They say that her mind holds the key to solving the case(s) of a serial killer, but she can’t even remember her own parents. How is she going to help save others when she can’t even recall what happened last week? And, why is she able to make birds fly out of wallpaper? That’s not normal… is it?
Conjured is a fluffy, young adult fantasy that tip-toes around the horror genre but, mainly, remains safely in the real world of amnesia and teenage angst. This book suffers from a glacial pacing but the mystery part of the story really took me by surprise. As I mentioned, the horror elements in this story are minimal but there are some brief and not terribly graphic descriptions of blood, mental anguish, bondage, imprisonment, physical violence, and creepy circus folk.
My favorite parts of this book happened during Eve’s blackout moments or visions. They read like scary fairy tales: “It always begins with ‘once upon a time,’ my dear. That is how it is, even if ‘once upon a time’ is now.” Gnarled hands separate the strands of my hair and wind them around knuckles. “A witch…for of course there was a witch. There always is, isn’t there? She had stars in her eyes and dust in her hair. She heard the sounds of the forest when she moved and the ocean when she spoke.” pg 14 ebook. The visions set the tone of this story. They’re like nightmares for Eve- profoundly disturbing, but not real. Or are they?
I loved that Eve took a job as a library assistant. The craziest things happen at the library but it was also a place of safety for her when she couldn’t remember anything else: “Libraries… they’re the places with stories,” Eve said. Closing her eyes, she tried to summon up a memory of a library. Shelves of books. Sunlight falling across a table. She saw spiral stairs. It could have been a real place, or Malcolm could have shown her a picture at some point. It felt like a real place.”pg 17, ebook
The extraordinarily slow unfolding of Eve’s background was frustrating:“You can’t do any magic here. There is no magic in this world- that’s why this place is safe for you.” She held her face still. Another hint about her past. He had told her so much in those few sentences, more than he’d ever told her before. There is no magic in this world, she thought. I’m from another world? pg 21, ebook. I don’t know… you tell me!
The teenage love story in Conjured is cute and very John Green-esque:“Because when I’m with you, I feel whole,” he said. “Because with you, life doesn’t feel brutish and short. It feels beautiful… and short.” pg 176 ebook.
So, if you can tolerate an extremely slow reveal, pick up Conjured. Some read-alikes: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (circus themes, slow story) or Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace (a girl is asked by a ghost to help him find someone he’s lost).
Thanks for reading!